If you’re one of those people who think small talk is a waste of time, then I’m willing to bet you don’t have a good plan (or any plan) in place for dealing with those interactions.
If you don’t spend time strategizing your small talk, you can’t expect it to be productive.
Every business conversation you have should fall into one, if not all, of these categories:
- relationship building
- information gathering/sharing
- rapport developing
Relationships don’t just happen. Business transactions don’t occur just because you swapped business cards. You don’t trust someone that you’ve never talked to. Small talk is the mechanism that starts bigger conversations. Sports topics provide the perfect entry point into those small talk situations.
Before you raise your hand to object, allow me to say this – sports works even if you’re not a sports fan, and even if you don’t know if the person you’re talking to watches sports. Why? Because asking the question, “What did you think of the game last night?” or “Are you planning to watch the game this weekend?” cuts to the chase better than an awkward game of 20-questions.
The answer to those questions, regardless of what the answer is, gets you closer to building a business relationship, gathering or sharing information and developing rapport. And that’s why small talk is an important part of business communication.
I’ve got plenty of resources that help make sports talk useful in business and a list of Sports Conversation Starters that gets published every Monday. It’s your cheat sheet to what sports fans are talking about and gives you a handful of topics that can be used in small talk at work. Sign up to become sports savvy by 7am every Monday.
Jen Mueller, veteran sports broadcaster and rock star key note presenter is the author of The Influential Conversationalist. She specializes in conversation strategies that develop leadership potential improve business communication. Hire Jen to speak at your next event Jen@TalkSportytoMe.com