If you鈥檙e an introvert interested in networking, making small聽talk at holiday parties聽can be a major challenge 鈥 what if you have nothing in common and nothing to say?聽As painful as it might seem,聽small talk can have a big impact personally and professionally. Whether you鈥檙e a pro looking for a few new tips or you鈥檙e just starting out in the networking world, we鈥檙e sharing advice聽for better (and more beneficial) small talk.

smalltalk

1. Start by just聽saying hi.聽If they鈥檙e at the networking event, they want to meet people too. Say hello 鈥 they鈥檒l probably be relieved that you were the one to start the conversation. 鈥淔ellow networkers are just as nervous to meet new people and network. Kick it off by offering a small compliment to the person you want to speak with. It will help break the ice and start the conversation,鈥 says Emily Merrell, co-founder and owner of the networking group City Society.

2. Know聽your elevator pitch.聽You鈥檙e likely to be asked about your career and interests. Deena Baikowitz, chief networking officer and co-founder of Fireball Network, says, 鈥淚t takes time and preparation to create the perfect pitch. Your pitch will change depending on the situation, your goals and whom you鈥檙e talking to.鈥 The most important thing to remember is that if your pitch is generic, no one will remember it, Baikowitz says. Make sure you add your personality.

3. Have a few go-to questions in your back pocket.聽Some of my anti-lull聽favorites: How did you find out about this event? What do you like to do when you鈥檙e not at work? Where did you grow up? People enjoy talking about themselves, so asking one or two open-ended questions can usually get the conversation back on track. Merrell聽says, 鈥淚 find it easier to maximize the conversation when I am asking the questions and show a genuine interest in their history.鈥 It helps you find a common denominator.

4. Elaborate on your answers.聽When someone asks you a question, add (appropriate) personal anecdotes to keep the conversation flowing naturally. 鈥淭alk about significant life experiences, career stories and accomplishments that will give other people a clear sense of who you are,鈥 recommends Baikowitz. Additionally, she says you should 鈥渟hare stories that will make people remember you as a bright, friendly, interesting professional.鈥

5. Make introductions.聽If someone joins the conversation, make an introduction so they feel welcomed and engaged. Introduce them to the person you were talking to and let them know what you were talking about. For example, say, 鈥淏eth, this is Jennifer. Jennifer is a reporter at the聽New York Times. We were just talking about her recent article about Adele.鈥 Now Beth can join the conversation and explain that she鈥檚 listened to 鈥淗ello鈥 on repeat approximately 1,000 times. Two added benefits to this approach are that people like hearing their own names and that you鈥檒l be more likely to remember names if you repeat them.

6. Exit gracefully.聽You want to meet more than one person, so you need to know how to politely end the conversation. Say something like, 鈥淚t was so nice to meet you and learn more about your career. I鈥檇 love to get your card so we can stay in touch.鈥 If the person is聽alone, it鈥檚 polite to introduce him or her聽to a colleague or someone else you know聽at the聽event before bowing out.

Got any small talk tips you swear by? Tweet us @britandco!

This post was previously published on Levo League by聽.