A little while back I started a series on the ins and outs of developing a social life (or network) after college. Check out Part I and Part II if you have not already.

This part is particularly important because it emphasizes the importance of small talk.

Enjoy!

What is small talk?

Small Talk

Small talk is the foundation. It is everything.

Small talk is an efficient way of socializing. It is how you get to know another person on a base level. In other words, it is a way for you to “get a feel” for a stranger without getting too in-depth. It is quick. It is harmless. It is the building block of all communication with strangers.

Small talk is the most important form of communication. If you are normal and can master small talk… you’re pretty much set.

You don’t need anything fancy. You don’t need game. Getting friends will simply become a matter of running in to the right people and engaging in small talk. Getting girls will simply become a matter of running in to the right girls at the right time and engaging in small talk.

Why is small talk so important?

Small talk is important for guys (people) of all ages. But small talk is especially important for you guys in your post-college years because of the simple fact that time is not on your side.

Times have changed. It’s no longer the case that you have all the time in the world to “chill” and do nothing.

You have greater responsibilities. You have your own place. You have got bills to pay. You have a job.

If you’re like most recent college graduates, you know this cold hard fact… WORK SUCKS.

Nothing sucks more than having to wake up early and go to the office where you spend 8-10 hours a day working a job you can’t stand five days a week.

It sucks. It’s torturous. They didn’t teach you this back in college. They didn’t tell you how much of a drag the working world is. They didn’t tell you how monotonous the process was. The morning commutes. The pointless meetings. Office politics. Rush hour traffic.

They didn’t tell you that this was reality.

But this is reality. Reality is that a full-time job takes up a significant chunk of your life, leaving you with little time to socialize.

You live in the real world. You are a productive member of society who has a time consuming career.

The question is… How do you network and develop relationships when time is not on your side?

The answer is to become an efficient communicator through the use of small talk.

How do you get the ball rolling with small talk?

In our private group, I recently gave our members a challenge focused on simple eye contact. That’s usually how all verbal communication begins with strangers… with simple eye contact.

Check out the videos to see examples of the 2 most common forms of eye contact.

Video 1 shows neutral eye contact. This is the type of eye contact you make with a dude or a chick that you are neutral towards (not attracted to).

If you want, you can add a little to it by giving a simple nod of acknowledgement. You can even say something simple like, “What’s up?” or “Sup?”

Video 2 shows the eye contact you make when you come in contact with a chick that you think is cute. You usually want to smile or smirk. May say something like “Hi.” To go along with it.

But for the most part, it all begins with eye contact.

The #1 Thing You Must Know About Small Talk

What do you say to initiate small talk? (Basic Small Talk Template)

Small talk is simple because at the beginning of the conversation, the same things (lines) tend to be said. In a way, small talk absolutely follows a template.

1) People make eye contact.

2) One person opens and says something. Here are examples of “openers”:

Hi.

Hey.

What’s up?

Hey what’s up?

How’s it going?

Hey how ya doing?

Hey how’s it going?

3) The other person answers. If the person is even a little bit friendly/outgoing, they will reciprocate by asking the initiator how they are doing.

4) The initiator (person who opened) gets the ball rolling by either commenting on an observation about the person (this is why it is so important to know your Cliff’s Notes) or simply asking that person what they are up today.

Ex. Chat up chick wearing yoga pants at Whole Foods- A guy might say: “You work out today?” or “You work out around here?”

5) And then pretty much from there each person says a question or comment related to the other person’s previous comment. In an ideal situation, the 2 people will latch on to something that they have in common and the conversation will focus mostly on that.

6) If there’s mutual benefit to them staying in contact/hanging out again, they will agree to exchange contact information and meet up again.

That’s small talk in a nut shell. It might sound strange or odd the way I described it but that’s because it’s so basic that it’s sort of odd to break down “how to talk to a stranger.”

Concluding Thoughts on Small Talk

Every day strangers are becoming acquaintances. They are doing so through small talk. Small talk, favorable circumstances, and daily exposure are how people develop social circles in middle school, high school, and college.

Nothing changes once you enter your post-college years. The fundamentals remain the same. The big difference is time. Time is a lot more precious at this point in the game.

That’s why you must be efficient with any free time you have. Do your research for your particular city and figure out the “hot spots.” Whatever type of people you want to bring in to your life… Where are they hanging out? When are they going there? That’s where you want to focus your efforts.

Most importantly, you must be the initiator. People generally don’t go out of their way to make small talk with strangers during their daily routine. It just doesn’t happen. People are in their own little worlds. They have their routines. They’re just trying to make it to the weekend.

Since that’s the case, you must be the outgoing person… the person who gets the ball rolling.

Sonny

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2 Comments

  1. Gray
    July 21, 2015 at 3:46 am — Reply

    I’m a strong introvert by nature and also tend to be depressive. After struggling with feelings of isolation and loneliness, here is one way I found to practice my interpersonal (namely small-talk) skills.

    So I’m use to chatting in my head and narrating all throughout the day. Sure, I have my moments of Zen, but otherwise I’m constantly judging things. I ingrained the habit of keeping all my judgements and thoughts and stories to myself. I kept my inner chatter just that: Inner.

    Now, however, when I have that self-dialogue pop into my head, when I see someone I can relate it to, I say it rather than keeping it to myself. I find those opportunities to break out of ‘sheeple’ routine to interact with a fellow human so precious now. For example, as I was in line today for a sandwich, the patron ahead of me asked if they had pesto. They did not. I chimed in “Yea, pesto would be good” to which he turns around, makes good wide-eyed contact like he was surprised, and agrees with me. Sure, this particular example is insignificant as I just arbitrarily selected it from today, but you see how it could be extrapolated to other situations.

    Five years ago I started practicing this method, and now I can launch off a conversation with anyone. You just need that initial seed, which can be as simple as anything really. And then from there it’s all references. Whatever is said to you, think of some reference material that can be used to expound the conversation (see Sonny’s step #5). Then it’s just like a game of verbal reference ping-pong, and if you get a good rally going, well then that’s rapport and you might want to try to run into this person again. Realize that this is shallow form of communication though. It’s good for starting things off, but it is not intimate. And I am not simply referring to ‘intimacy’ in its sexual capacity.

    Also, stop worrying about trying to be this cool silent stoic motherfucker. Let go of that image, it just holds you back. Don’t be afraid to make yourself vulnerable, speak your mind. To introverts this is the real challenge, but you have to realize that you need to start offering things up if you ever want to get something in return, let alone feel good about yourself, your people skills, and your ability to foster relationships.

    Post-college social life strikes me as a brilliant topic, props Sonny. Also, this post resonated me and is what led me to comment (which I never do), so cheers.

    • July 23, 2015 at 5:51 pm — Reply

      Thanks man. Glad you commented. You got some good points. I especially like the idea of that “initial seed.”

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