- On June 4, 2017
The words “small talk” and “networking” often strike fear in the hearts of lawyers, who are used to diving straight into substance. But lawyers first need to build trust and be approachable before they can advise clients effectively, so think of small talk and networking as the gateway to real discussions. Below are some tips from a recent WSJ article on how “banal banter can turn into something more meaningful and even help your career if you know how to steer the conversations.”
- Try upbeat and interesting openers — people remember meetings that are positively charged. Suggested opening lines: “What was the highlight of your day?” “What personal projects are you working on?”
- Respond in a way that enables deeper conversation. For example if you hear a comment on the weather, you can ask, “Do you think the weather affects people’s moods or performance?” Or if you are told “I found the talk interesting,” you can respond with “What caught your attention most?” Or in response to “I just moved here,” you can ask, “What has it been like getting used to a new city?”
- Ask a serious question about an uninspiring topic. For example, if you are talking to someone with a high-stress job who just returned from vacation, you can ask “Can someone in a job like yours ever get totally away?”
- Ask questions that put the spotlight on others (this tactic is great for introverts!). For example, asking “What’s keeping you awake at night?” encourages clients to explain their biggest problems.