The Power of Small Talk

By University Canada West Modified on August 07, 2023
Tags : Careers

Discover how small talk could be a benefit for you as a student.

 The Power of Small Talk

This article was written by University Canada West MBA Alumna Diana R.

Years ago, while working in PR and marketing, I learned I could create the most significant relationships and opportunities by connecting with people through small talk. I am a people person; nonetheless, small talk was made for everyone, and I will tell you why.

Small talk is commonly known as an informal or superficial way of communication in our society; however, part of our social functions as human beings is to be connected through our social interactions. Beyond its technical definition, small talk is a powerful tool for connecting people’s interests, creating relationships through activities and opinions, sharing your values, and selling yourself your qualities and strengths by getting in touch with others.

Having an elevator pitch prepared for these short moments is essential to promote who you are and what makes you valuable in the university and the market. An elevator pitch is a way of briefly presenting yourself, conveying a critical message and establishing a rapport with someone.

Why is it important to use an elevator pitch in small talk?

Having an elevator pitch structure will allow you to communicate strong ideas without improvisation. Creating an action plan for your elevator pitch may make you memorable to others, highlighting the best of your brand (P.S. your name is your brand). When you have an action plan, you will identify the opportunity, and immediately you will start sharing your speech and your ideas and creating valuable connections, increasing your networking.

The benefits of using an elevator pitch in small talk as a university student are:

  • Build relationships: Massive connections start from small talk in daily activities like looking for a table to share in the Student Lounge. Relationships begin with greetings.
  • Show others your value: What causes do you care about? What are your skills? What is your background? Teaching others is the best way to learn.
  • Gain confidence speaking in another country, learning new languages and getting practice communicating between different cultures. Try connecting with people in different environments.
  • Solve questions with professors and other students: Daring to ask at least one question could make a huge difference in an assignment. Asking for help and recognizing that we are learning makes us stronger and more knowledgeable.

As a student, it’s an enormous tool to connect with other classmates, managers, and coworkers, gaining trust and credibility with professors in class. Expand conversations beyond classrooms building solid relationships.

How to start having short conversations?

The perfect moment to start is now. Yes, today! Look around you and your environment. I’ve heard people saying, “What for?” or “I am not made for that,” missing an enormous opportunity to share their values. I encourage you to start practicing.

Sharing a lineup to pay for groceries is a great start; waiting for the bus with your neighbour while ordering a coffee at the library is also recommended. Going to the areas or places that make you feel alive: sharing in your church, getting closer to your community on social media, meeting up, practicing sports, making partners at the gym to workout, creating a group on WhatsApp for going to a concert together between your classmates; even cutting your hair. It’s an opportunity to engage and express the best of yourself.

A structure to write your elevator pitch

These are suggested steps create an elevator pitch and practice small talk:

1. Start introducing yourself with your name.

2. Use a hook — something to catch others’ attention.

3. Sharing what makes you valuable. Exchange what you want others to know about you.

4. Get in touch! Ask for a contact: phone number, to connect on Linkedin, or follow an Instagram account.

If you were in a classroom, the following would be an example of participating in a conversation with someone talking about taxes:

“Hi, I’m Diana; are you doing your taxes? I remember how hard it was when I did them for the first time; I can guide you. Let’s get in touch to help you with it”.

More tips

Here’s some more advice on how to be successful at small talk:

  • Be on time. If it’s possible, arrive 10 to 15 minutes earlier. It will open more scenarios to engage and greet new people without pressure for time or rushing to get to the class on time.
  • You would discover how exciting it is to converse with your professors on a different topic rather than the course’s syllabus. What do they care about regardless of the class? What are their hobbies?
  • If when you think about doing this activity, you might think, “I am not good at that” or “That skill is for others,” I would like to encourage you to instead, in a positive way, start asking yourself, “Am I not good at that?” and “Is that skill for others?” You may be surprised by the results when you give yourself a chance to start.
  • My favourite part is when someone starts a conversation, compliments you and it’s you who needs to provide an unexpected answer. You will gain agility of thinking fast, whereas you made a question to someone or were asked to answer. Believe me, you will provide valuable solutions in a short time. Give yourself time and practice!

Take the opportunity to share your values, gain confidence, participate and grow your network by creating connections. Allow yourself to discover new opportunities to grow personally and professionally through your elevator pitch. Give yourself the opportunity to practice, practice, and practice to improve. Achieve your communication and networking goals using free tools; I want to invite you to start enjoying these experiences. Be on time and create your speech to start small talk.

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