Hate to network? Learn how to do it
THINK your boss looks good today? Save it. Do also refrain from giving monosyllabic answers and asking obvious questions - these are a few tips on how to ace small talk in the office.
"If you see that (your boss) has a set of golf clubs in his office, don't ask if he plays golf. Rather, ask how often he does so. Or, if you see a mother carrying a baby, don't ask if the baby is hers. Instead, ask how old the baby is," said Ms Suzenne Zheng, founder and master trainer of First Impressions Image International - a franchise of British firm First Impressions - which specialises in coaching people on how to make their best first impressions.
The mother of two, who used to work in sales and marketing, will be speaking at the MyPaper Metropolitan Series seminar on Saturday. She became an image-management trainer after getting frustrated with spending too much money on outfits that did not make her feel more confident.
Ms Zheng, author of best-selling self-help books including the 200-page Image Quotient, will touch on topics such as how to master small talk and use body language to one's advantage.
When you meet someone, for instance, start with a smile and a firm handshake, as these indicate openness and confidence, she said.
"Don't cross your arms, or have an expressionless face. This shows defensiveness and disinterest, be it intentional or not," she said, adding that she trains more than 800 people every month.
Ms Zheng also added that looking good is a plus point. For instance, a tie on a man signifies authority, she said, adding that women should avoid dressing too casually in a professional setting as "you want to avoid looking like a housewife at a networking event".
Most of her clients fear small talk because "they are their own inner critic", she said.
"They are afraid of being judged for not being interesting enough", Ms Zheng said, adding that practice can help a person overcome this fear.
Other things to avoid? Being a know-it-all.
"Know-it-alls hijack the conversation and try to flex their knowledge. This serves to turn the other person away and achieves nothing," she said, adding that people should listen 80 per cent and talk 20 per cent.
The two-hour networking and personal-branding seminar will include demonstrations on what body language one should adopt. It will also teach participants how to make an effective self-introduction.
Mr Amos Leow, 22, a financial consultant, said he is considering attending the talk.
"Small talk is definitely not my forte," he said, adding that he is a "naturally reserved guy".
Noting that he started working only recently, he added: "I realised I was so bad at networking when I was stuck waiting for a lift with a superior.
"I was not entirely sure what to say, so it was mostly awkward. Such a seminar will help with my interpersonal relations at work and help me make more friends."
Find out all about networking and making the right impression from personal-branding expert Suzenne Zheng at the Networking Tips For People Who Hate Networking seminar, part of the MyPaper Metropolitan Series. To register, visit http://pbp.sph.com.sg/mpmw. Registration closes on Thursday.
Time: 2pm to 5pm
Venue: MOA New Zealand Bar & Grill, Changi City Point
Price: $22 per person