As a sales professional, I am constantly talking to people; all different types of people in different scenarios. A lot of this talk is obviously geared toward what I am selling, but other times it’s a bunch of small talk. My week is full of lunches and events with people I don’t really know.
This is a daunting task to a lot of people, but I like it. I love people and I enjoy hearing their stories. Simple questions about their family, where they grew up, and their interests are good stand-by questions and generally get people to chat. Once we’ve covered these though, sometimes conversation can drag, so I’ve been thinking of different conversation starters with the idea that I’m trying to learn more about the person and the work they do, which, in turn, helps me do my job more effectively.
Here’s a few that I’m trying out:
- Tell me the best and worst part of your week so far (Pows and Wows or Peaches and Pits).
- Was there someone in your life that influenced your decision to get into this line of work?
- If you could meet anyone in this industry, who would it be and why?
- What kind of hobbies do you have (it’s a bonus if this leans toward our industry so I can ask questions about it)?
- What type of job (in our industry or not) would you recommend to your children (or young people in general)?
- If you weren’t doing this job, what would you be doing (this generally ties back to hobbies or interests but, I find it fascinating what the answers are sometimes!)?
- Ask for help or an opinion. This can be on the company I’m targeting, on the workplace, on a project I’m working on – whatever. People love to give their two cents!
If your situation is similar to mine or if you just find that you have trouble making small talk, these are a good jumping off point. I’m always looking for new ways to connect with people and make those “getting to know you” chats a little less awkward, and I’d love to hear other great conversations starters that have worked for you. Let me know what you’ve got!