[featured-image size=”featured” single_newwindow=”false”]image credit: adwriter via flickr[/featured-image]With all the holiday parties coming up you're going to have a lot of opportunities to practice schmoozing. Maybe small talk isn't your thing so you are dreading the idea and wondering how you'll ever survive mundane topics like the weather and traffic.

Start the conversation off on the right foot:

1) Greet people by saying your name. Don't assume they remember.

2) Ask an open-ended question that gets them talking about themselves. 

Ideas for this time of year:

  • What are your family's favorite holiday traditions?
  • What are your favorite holiday memories from childhood?

Any time of year you could ask:

  • Have you traveled anywhere recently?
  • If you had free time, how would you fill it?

My standard opening question is, “How did you hear about this event?”

3) Listen intently and ask thoughtful follow-up questions to engage them further. Don't have any knowledge about the topic they brought up? Not sure how to respond?

Keep the conversation going by saying, “Really. That's so interesting. Tell me more.” This roughly translates to, “I have no idea what to say right now”, but won't stop the conversation dead in its tracks.

“Really. That's so interesting. Tell me more.” Roughly translates to, “I have no idea what to say right now.”
[click to tweet]

4) Conversation isn't coming around to something you're really interested in? Wrap up the conversation a few minutes later. Don't drag it out. The person you were just talking to will walk away thinking you're fascinating. Seriously.

Yes. All you said was your name. You didn't tell your whole life story or a long and involved sales pitch.

You asked thoughtful questions that helped them show up more in the room. They were able to share a bit more about themselves and something they are passionate about.

Later, when they see you approach their circle of friends, they'll create space for you to join their group. They don't know a lot about you, but they do know that you made them feel welcomed and interesting, so they will be open to reconnecting.

This holiday season make it your goal to invite others to talk about what they are passionate about – they will leave thinking you're fascinating.

Talk about what they are passionate about – they will leave thinking you're fascinating.  [click to tweet]

Happy holidays!

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Robbie Samuels has been recognized as a networking expert by Inc. and Lifehacker, and profiled in “Stand Out: How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It” by Dorie Clark.  Check out “On the Schmooze” his new podcast.

Want to bring Robbie to your organization? Learn more about his sessions and keynotes at www.RobbieSamuels.com.

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