New to Town? Here’s How to Make Small Talk

Yesterday, we talked about how to find a new job in your town and the importance of networking. Getting out there and meeting new people is a great way to strike up some new friendships, partnerships, and even find a new job doing something that you love. Only most people aren’t great at the game of small talk. If you find yourself fumbling for something to say when you meet new people, this article is for you!


CC Image courtesy of Karen Roe on Flickr
CC Image courtesy of Karen Roe on Flickr

Take a look at some of these great ways to strike up a conversation with anyone.


1. Ask questions that can’t be answered simply. This is a journalist’s trick, and it’s one that will get you a lot of interesting responses. If you ask someone “what’s your name?” that person might respond with a simple “Bob” (or Ted, or Mary, or Silvia…). But, if you follow up that question with “that’s an interesting name, I’ve never met a Bob! Were you named after someone else?” Nine times out of ten, you’ll get the story that goes along with the name. That, in turn, can generate plenty of conversation.


2. Note your surroundings. Take note of the details of a place when you walk in. Is there something interesting about the room that you’re in? Do you see any intricate decorations or oddities? You’re not the only one! Try mentioning something about the décor to a person you’ve just met. Something like: “imagine how much that massive chandelier weighs!” It’s hard for most people not to jump into a conversation like that one!


3. Bring up a current topic. This one can get tricky. Don’t bring up anything too controversial, or you may end up in the midst of a heated argument! Instead, try to bring up some bit of news that’s strange or bizarre. You can check out various websites before you head out to find something really interesting to talk about (“did you know that BMW has a car that drives itself now!”).


4. Ask more questions. Once someone tells you something (anything, really), ask questions about that experience. For example: “that’s really interesting! What did you do while you were visiting Thailand?”


5. Listen. This is the simplest trick of them all, and it’s one that the famed Dale Carnegie mentions numerous times in his popular book ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People.’ Most people spend networking hours talking about themselves, so it’s a shock when you listen more than speak. In fact, Carnegie suggests spending your evening with just one person – listening, asking questions, and really paying close attention. Sure, you’ll ignore everyone else in the room, but that one person will never forget you! It’s one tactic to try out!


6. Flatter someone. Everyone has an ego. If there’s someone that you want to talk to, make sure to find something about what they are wearing to comment on. “That’s a lovely necklace! Where did you get it?” Be careful about walking up to someone and commenting on an overall appearance. Some people may take offense to “you’re so pretty!” or may just become very uncomfortable with your comment.


7. Get familiar. This trick only works if you can pull it off, so if you feel like you can’t accomplish the “I ask too many personal questions and get away with it” tactic, don’t do it! If you are that person, try to ask something that’s somewhat familiar. For example: “you look really uncomfortable in those shoes! Are they absolutely killing your feet?”


8. Be basic. Try the old “what do you do for a living?” question. Just remember to follow that up with more questions. “I’m a firefighter.” “Wow! What’s the most dangerous situation you’ve ever been in?” See how that works?

9. Feign surprise. Try not to be overly dramatic about this one, but some people assume that they know things you don’t. So, someone might come up to you while you’re standing at a networking event for real estate agents and say, “it’s all about location, location, location! Did you know that?” You may want to respond: “yes, everyone in this industry knows that line.” But, a better way to answer is to say something like “what a great line! Tell me more!”


10. Let someone teach you. This approach can be a double-edged sword, so choose the person that will become your teacher carefully (otherwise, that person may feel like they have a duty to teach you for the rest of your years!). Ask something like “I’m really new to real estate. What’s the most important lesson you might be able to teach me?” People love to be an authority, and this trick works like a charm.


Now that you have a bunch of ways to break the ice, there’s no excuse not to get out there and start networking in your new town. Of course, you have to get there first! Moving to Fort Collins or Denver? Let Exodus Moving and Storage help you out! Give us a call today.