Why Small Talk is THE Tool for You as an Introvert Female Founder

Small talk is a form of conversation deeply associated with extroverted people who never have to spend a minute thinking about a topic worth opening your mouth. Snippets and questions come to them naturally. A trait to envy? For those introverts among us, we feel ambivalent about that talent. On the one hand, we might envy the lightheartedness to enter a talk with a stranger. On the other hand, we loathe having the superficial weather-kind-of-talks.
However, we are aware that small talk is the very beginning of any relationship. Be it a friendship, a love relationship or any business connection you can imagine – everything starts with a simple talk. A few sentences to open the door to more.

Can you imagine any sale taking place without the chit chat being the icing on the cake to the atmosphere? Certainly not, if it is more than a bunch of apples to be sold. As an introverted entrepreneur you may have some awkward feeling beating the big drum for your business. That’s in fact when small talk comes in handy.

You should use these little effortless conversations to shed some light on your offer.

But wait, effortless conversations? For us introvert ladies, small talk is everything but effortless. Difficulty number one might be the question of how to approach strangers, although networking is a huge thing to foster your success in business. Without talks, no networking. Feeling insecure or judged can be the main factor spinning your wheel and finally deciding to skip a networking event or spend the evening in a corner rather than having small talk.

A second hurdle is the question of what to talk about and how to avoid superficial topics and how to keep the conversation going with interesting things (spoiler: your business is actually very interesting). Don’t forget that you are having the talk as well as the person you are talking to. No need to take boring topics as a given, instead choose them wisely yourself.
Sarah Köhlen, Coach and Founder of Smalltalkexpertin
But let’s get back to the traits an introvert lady has that are actually her strengths. You love to think about any matter twice and reflect on things that happened to you deeply and on your own. Your me-time is precious and embraces a lot more than a candle and a bubble bath. You write down your thoughts, you love reading not only for entertainment, but for personal development and you need your retreat in a cozy corner to get back to your inner core.

Having a conversation, you are the listener more than the talker and you will certainly take your time to answer. Mostly, you are thankful for being approached in a new environment to start any communication.

Does that sound familiar? There are a lot more introverted features that might apply to you, but let me tell you they are no contradiction to small talk or to lively communication in the business context.

In a loud and surely more extroverted world you need to find a strategy to show your strengths and business offer your way. It should be a way that is heard, though, and small talk is your tool.

Let me tell you a bit about my story. Although I have always been introverted (not shy) and highly sensitive, I was an eager talker as a child. Not afraid to speak my mind among children or adults. In my teens I made a 180 and changed completely: The always talking girl became rather quiet and had difficulties finding topics to talk to strangers or within an unfamiliar environment.

Difficult to cope with, even more so, if you were used to a different behavior that you used to have. It did not get better when studying and having my first job interviews. As a tutor I was working many years in changing environments and had to meet and adapt to many different people. Small talk was basically required as part of my work.

I severely disliked small talk and was bad at networking. That was the moment when I realized that not only as an introvert solopreneur, you cannot afford to skip small talk as the entrance door to networking. Having all those thoughts, how to start, what to say and how to leave a conversation, bothered me.

Thus I started to develop a method which helped me to get along with small talk, comprising all my difficulties. I called it the E-F-E Small Talk method. E standing for entry, which means to be able to start the talk when, where and with whom you want. F standing for flow, avoiding awkward silence and keeping up the conversation with deep and interesting topics. Finally, E for exit – you should be able to leave without qualms when you feel everything has been said. Leave, without having wasted a contact worthwhile keeping.

This method was meant to help only me with my challenge. But very soon I learned that it was not only me who needed to improve her small talk skills. It was a whole community of introvert ladies.

So here are three fundamental tips on how to improve your small talk, make it interesting and actually use it as a tool.

People will care about your offer if you understand to start a talk the right way

The talk with a stranger can have many stumbling blocks if you are overthinking. Let’s suppose you visit a trade fair or a networking event. Your goal to do so should be clear: Collecting valuable business contacts and thus new opportunities to do business. Therefore, you must get your message out and this will work best when having interesting small talk. Please avoid standard questions that identify the bore. Questions like „How do you like it here?“ or „What is your profession/area of practice?“ are not exactly showstoppers.

When you are starting like that the risk is that people are in fact bored even before you have started talking about your expertise at all. They have heard these questions and phrases a hundred times like all of us and are likely to switch to autopilot.

You must get your message out and this will work best when having interesting small talk.
Instead dive into the very situation and perceive the person you are talking to. Start with something you have just experienced on this event or a little story from a former event which might already hint at your offer. „I just ran into a woman who was an expert in XYZ. That’s why I love such events. You get interesting insights and valuable business contacts. Are you satisfied with how this turned out so far?“

The person will be awake when hearing an unusual question. Being asked for her evaluation makes the small talk much more engaging.

Now be prepared to talk about your expertise and what you are actually looking for. This is something you can practice. But never forget to ask questions as well.

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Just the two of you: No matter how long, the core small talk should be focused

You got all the attention for your small talk and yourself as a small talk partner? Perfect. Now deepen the conversation and dive into the (business) needs of your partner as well as yours. Lead the talk by asking focused, but interesting questions. Catch her with your real interest in what she is doing and thinking. And I mean real interest which should be your introvert strength as a thinker and good listener.

Ever read descriptions of well-known people that used to be extremely charming and successful with people and in conversations? People like Queen Mum, Bill Clinton or Carolyn Bessette Kennedy are or were all said to have the skill of making the person they talk to the most important person in the world at that moment. Who could then resist to start paying attention as well?

That’s when you can genuinely present your business.

Keep it going, establish a flow and have enough stories and topics at hand to entertain in an intelligent way.

The most charming exit you can think of

The best small talk will come to an end – sooner or later. Why might this be a pressing issue? Maybe because you get overwhelmed soon because of all the stimuli around you. Especially for highly sensitive women this is a fact to consider. Stimulus satiation can turn the best talk into stress. You should know when to leave.

But maybe it is just that you feel the small talk has come to a natural end or you have other goals for this event on your agenda. All these are reasons not to be ashamed of. Enough is enough. In fact, you might do both of you a favor finding the right moment to stop. But how to?

Wrap up the conversation, always smiling, and tell your partner what you have learned and why you will appreciate staying in contact. It’s important here to be proactive, that it is you who ends the talk.

Sometimes it can be a good thing to be open and tell people that you need a break because of who you are, what kind of personality. You can be sure that this is not a turn-off if a good small talk just took place. Your openness will rather be respected, since it should have become very obvious that you have been all-in during the talk.

In order to build something, you will need tools. By not using them, your effort is either doubled or useless. Building a network is crucial for your professional success. Even more so, if you are a founder starting from scratch or a solopreneur.

To think a network can be built without using clever communication strategies is more than optimistic. Who should let people know what you as a female founder are offering and why they need you to fit the bill, if you are not telling them? To make the circle complete you need small talk as a tool.

Make it YOUR tool paying attention to your introverted needs and embracing your talents. You will be amazed how successful you will be.

If you found Sarah’s coaching tips helpful, please visit Smalltalkexpertin Website or Instagram. For more coaching tips from Sarah, contact her here. To find more empowering and motivational articles, check out our online magazine. Discover our Online Academy & Community Membership incl. our online course in networking and try it for 7 days for free.

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