Making a good first impression. The first key to a good impression is good grooming. Clean, neatly pressed clothes appropriate for the occasion are a must, as is good oral hygiene. Be sure to stand up straight, use a firm handshake and look the other person in the eye. And don't forget to smile!
As for your
introduction, keep it simple,such as "Roswalle, nice
to meet you." More elaborate explanations about yourself or
your background can wait until later in the conversation.
Don't be afraid to get the ball rolling with a question to the
other person. Something as simple as "what brought you
here?" "do you often attend these events?" or "what did
you think of the presentation?" are sufficient as a conversation
starter. Rather than yes/no questions, ask open-ended
questions. Pick something relevant to the event you are at, instead of something random or seemingly unrelated.
Small talk is a good way to get to know someone, especially if your venue is a business lunch or dinner, or you are just
chatting before or after a meeting. In addition to displaying
your overall charm and communication skills, small talk helps
you get to know a person better, and discover things that you
have in common, which helps build the business relationship.
When making small talk, steer clear of personal or sensitive topics such as religion, finances, politics, race, etc.
Don't ask someone's age or marital status.
For Japanese, it's best to stay away from stereotypical questions like "do you like Japanese food?" or "can you use chopsticks?"
Good conversation topics for small talk include the following:
Sports. Americans love to talk about sports, particularly
baseball, football and basketball. Asking about the local
team is sure to get some kind of reaction.
For example, ask any
Chicagoan if they are a Cubs fan or a Sox fan, and you are
sure to have plenty to talk about.
Hobbies. Find out what the person likes to do in their spare
time. This might be a participant sport, such as golfing, tennis,
fishing or running. Or it might be some other activity. If you happen to find out that they share an interest with you, that's the
perfect bonding opportunity.
Note, however, that native English speakers seldom use the
word "hobby" in conversation. It's more natural to ask "What
do you like to do in your spare time?"
Local highlights. If you are visiting somewhere, ask about
local sightseeing destinations. "What should I be sure to see
while I'm here?" or "What restaurants do you recommend around here?" are good gambits.
Children. If the other person has mentioned that they have
children, this can be a good topic. Ask about their ages and
what activities they are involved in. If you have children, you can
share about yours.