Photo by Muhammad Faiz
Photo by Muhammad Faiz

Why small talk can be such a huge part of your first impression? How to start these conversations?

Learn about how your ability to small talk can be crucial to having more meaningful conversations and first impressions with decision makers at a firm you are targeting. This advice will also serve for your client-firm relationship building.

When trying to join a new team or group of people, of course, you will be vetted to see if you are a match for the group. Throughout this blog we will be covering the key factors to keep in mind when making a first impression, as well as how to contribute to small talk and push it towards more meaningful conversations.

First thing first! Let us highlight all of the negative ticks and actions that many people make when first meeting a decision maker at a firm. For example, lacking eye contact with the person you are talking to makes them feel like they can not trust you. For the younger professionals in the industry, you should not constantly check your phone. Ideally, you want to give the decision makers reasons to trust and value you as a possible part of their team.

Key factors to keep in mind when making a first impression:

  1. Appearance
  2. Manners
  3. Conversation
  4. Body language
  5. Attentiveness

Small talk can lead to a more meaningful conversation by bringing up shared social connections, shared activities, mutual acquaintances and/or connections. You must be willing to start the conversation, and they do not have all the time in the world, so it might be best for you to start the conversation. Always stay positive, never bad mouth any of your previous employers.

Another key aspect to consider is using his or her name to make the message more personal, and show them that you are trying to make meaningful, more long lasting connections.

Plan ahead

You might get nervous and anxious when thinking about first impressions, especially with possibly your future boss. So it is important that you try to plan ahead what you want to talk about and what areas you want to gain more insight on. If you ask to be interviewed by them, and then you have no questions for them, or do not even know what they do, then you are probably going to have a harder time making a strong first impression.

Think of others as more interesting than yourself

Do not be that person that is not actively listening, but rather, just waiting for your turn to talk. You want to make the person you are talking to feel like they are the most important person in the world. By actively asking them open and interesting questions that repeats part of what they talked about, they feel heard and are more likely to have positive views of you.

Don’t Interrogate

Watch out! While actively listening and asking questions is important to a healthy conversation, you do not want to start interrogating the decision makers. The conversation should flow naturally from person to person, and ideally, no one is left out!

Make sure you are using open body language that shows you are open to their ideas and questions. If you are crossing your arms and not smiling, you are less likely to be able to truly connect with the other person.

When considering your next career move, plan proactively and create Portfolios that include your best work. Consider looking into finding a mentor with Architect-USand improving your Portfolios with our Portfolio Plans and Career Advice Program. We provide coaching and personalized mentorship, so you can have a professional and experienced take on your next steps in your career, as well as a great team to confide in.



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