Every time I have a business talk with someone, I lead the conversation if I am talking to a client or a potential client.
But if I am on the client’s side, I hate it when for the first 10 minutes, they talk about the weather.
It’s so rainy out here in Dublin. I wish I was in Berlin right now. I heard it’s sunny there today?
We have a lovely sunny day here. I wish it stays like this on the weekend.
So! How’s the weather there in Berlin today?
O, I don’t know. Why don’t you Google it if you’re so interested in Berlin’s weather!
It’s so boring.
It’s so annoying.
It’s so fake.
And most importantly, it’s so UNCOMFORTABLE. We both know that we are not interested in the weather! We both know we are waiting to start talking about business and then move on with our lives.
I usually just reply with ‘hmms’ and ‘yeah’s to pointless, routine talks like that.
I am not against small talks. The whole purpose of it is to warm up both the parties before business discussions start. The whole purpose of small talk to get comfortable with each other, so you can open up during business discussions. They are meant to set a warm scene before the actual show begins.
They are nice. (But not important. Personally, I don’t use them.)
So, how do you do small talk with a business client?
Do them with purpose.
Try to gather information through it, information that you can use to understand them better and do better work with them.
Ask smarter questions.
Did you read a news article on your client’s industry recently? Did you read anything interesting there? Talk about that. Or try to figure out how much do they know about technology, what books they’re reading, etc.
I was on my way to the meeting and when I saw the traffic, I was horrified because I thought I’m going to be 10 minutes late! Their response to this will tell you how seriously they take punctuality.
So many of my clients want to send me details via whatsapp and I have to keep reminding them, emails are more sane for me! But seems like I need to remind them again (smile). Giving them a work ethic you want to work with, indirectly
Whenever I have an important meeting, I read a book before. This morning I was reading <this book> and got so engrossed, I lost track of the time. Their response to this will let you know what they read, how much in touch they are with popular culture.
Hope this helps us all ask smarter questions to do better business. And not be boring, predictable and pointless in our small talk 🙂