I have a small admission to make: I stink at small talk. Flop sweat, stammering, a too-loud laugh…you can watch me do ALL THREE if we’re strangers and you ask me a question. (It’s like a three ring circus for my personal insecurities. Where’s the cotton candy??)
The only time I’m really good at it is when my conversation partner stumbles (or strategically hits) upon one of my strengths or passions…when it doesn’t? Well, I’m as awkward as I was in junior high.
But – and here’s the thing – small talk is the very thing that invites larger conversations, that finds common ground. You have to be willing to expose personal parts of your life to make those connections…trying to seem too with-it, too professional will leave you with nothing to talk about except for your resume. But oversharing is also, obviously, a conversation-killer. (AWK-ward.)
Lifehacker has a good one-size-fits-all tip: share small details. Bringing up a topic that you’re passionate about, whether work-related, or concerned with affairs beyond the office walls (family! great restaurants! travel! books! youtube!), is an easy entry into a rewarding conversation. Because no one wants to spend all night talking platitudes…case studies are much more interesting.
Puttylike shares two other benchmarks that ring true to yours truly:
- We all want to connect with other people, but we just need to feel safe first.
- If you open up, others will, too.
Performers, you’re accustomed to putting yourself out there in every audition, every performance – to give a piece of yourself to any number of largely anonymous audition panels, audiences. You can do this!
As you’re vetting a new career, finding those points of entry can become even more crucial…advice, anecdotes, even connections for professional advancement can all lie in your ability to make connections. The good news? Is that you’re already fantastically equipped to do just that.