I’m a naturally curious person. I love asking questions and doing research, which is probably why I googled “Hatfields and McCoys” for over an hour the other day after watching the History Channel special about them. It’s a great mini-series by the way.
Anyway — it’s no wonder I picked journalism as a career — because I always want to know more. This is how I approach meeting new people as well.
Asking questions makes it very easy to get to know someone and to keep the conversation flowing. I always have a list of go-to questions to ask when I meet a new person. Those include:
- What do you do for a living?
- What’s your typical work day like?
- What’s the most interesting trip you’ve been on recently?
- Where did you grow up?
But when the tables are turned — you must also be prepared. Have a list of things you can say when asked typical questions like:
- How was your day?
- How’s work going?
- What’s new with you?
Instead of saying “same old, same old,” “not much” or “busy” — have something to actually say! This will make you a much more interesting person to talk to and turn this into a conversation worth having.
For example, last night I hosted my second Lists & Libations Meetup and there is always small talk as everyone arrives. When asked “how have you been?” I answered by giving details of my latest trip to Paris instead of just saying “great.” This guided our conversation to Paris, travel and beyond.
To avoid saying things like “not much.” be armed with a list of topics that you can share stories about like:
- A recent trip
- An incredible meal you just had
- An interesting person you recently met
- An entertaining movie or show you just watched
- A book you want to read
This way you get to actually share something of substance with the other person and hopefully that will resonate with him or her. The hope is that you find common ground and that this new acquaintance will turn into a friend.