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How do I get better at small talk when networking?

Q: How do I get better at small talk when networking?

A: Talking about the weather is fairly tedious and talking about current events can be divisive. So, seizing on sports may be a better icebreaker. Read the sports pages, get electronic news feeds, follow tweets of sports writers nationally and in your hometown.

If that seems repugnant, rather than trying to make small talk about the law try asking a question to start the conversation. Ask what brought the person to the event or what drew them to want to hear the speaker, for example. Chit-chat needn’t be extensive with any one person or group, Just look for a person or two with whom to connect briefly and then follow up afterward.

When networking remotely, it’s ok to get to the point more quickly, to help conserve busy people’s time. Tell them you’d like to chat about sports but knowing they’re busy, you want to cut to heart of the matter. People will appreciate the absence of small talk and your practical, get to the point approach.