Networking: Small Talk and Business Cards for Job Seekers

By Dr. G. Jay Christensen, CECC, CFRW

A few months ago CareerBuilder.com ran a fascinating article about “Small Talk.” It got me thinking once more about the whole issue of networking in the job search and what students can do to create that valuable small talk with business cards. Even though some of my comments may parallel the article, I will think about my own experiences with small talk and how they can benefit students and job seekers.

Participation Requires More Than Observation

First, small talk is not easy for me. I have always been the kind of person who observes a crowd rather than participates with the crowd. Still, if one is going to need to improve one’s networking skills, small talk is part of the game. The article in CareerBuilder recommends we find three or four items to discuss with people: the weather, art history, music, and hobbies, to name some choices. I think expanding on that idea is quite worthwhile. When I went to a recent, national conference, I realized no one was familiar to me because of a lapse of time in attending the event. That was my fault, but playing the part of victim did not suit my personality. Therefore, I vowed to make friends every day of the four-day event and listen carefully to what was said. That is my first rule of better small talk for my students:

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