How to Mingle and Make Small Talk

Meeting people for the first time at events or just a long ride up the lift with a stranger could be daunting and even awkward. But it doesn't have to be. Here, the acquired art of small talk would come handy.

Get started with a drink in hand, or some nibbles if you are really hungry, rather than crossing your arms over your chest in a less than friendly position.

Always smile and be first to say hello when approaching someone or vice versa. If there is someone in particular you would like to meet, it is always good to have a common friend do the introductions. And if you are entering an ongoing conversation, it is always best to observe the dynamics for a short while before voicing out your own thoughts.

Have a relevant introduction of yourself in mind when you meet someone, be it at a meeting, a conference or just at a party. If you are at a conference, you may wish to identify yourself with your organisation and your title. If you are at a birthday party, you may share your relation with the birthday person. And if it is a networking session, business cards are likely to be exchanged too.

Make an effort to remember names. In fact, drop them in frequently during the conversation. It would help close the distance while making it easier for you to remember them.

If possible and relevant, do some background research before the event. For example, if it is a product launch event, you might want to find out what so special about this new offering before attending. Questions and/or conversations could easily be based on the reason for attending the event.

Next, seek common ground with the person you are talking to and maintain the conversation by asking open-related questions such as "what do you think of...?".

Listen attentively while making eye contact. If possible, listen more and talk only when you have something interesting to contribute.

Lastly, have a ready exit plan. Excusing yourself to the washroom or having to get more drinks are two of the most common and believable getaways.

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