Don't forget,small talk does not always have to be unrelated to work topics. It may be semiwork-related as well. Questions about what kind of work projects the other person has been involved in or their professional specialization are always interesting conversation fodder. The key thing about small talk is to be genuine, and react in a natural manner. Ask questions about the things the other person mentions that are genuinely of interest to you rather than the things you think you are "supposed" to ask about.
Avoid drinking alcohol at
lunch (the "three-martini lunch"
of past decades has long been
out of style!).
Avoid drinking too
much alcohol at after work functions. Although in Japan drinking is de rigueur, in an Ameri-
can-style social situation, it's
better to avoid alcohol, so that
you can keep your wits sharp
and be a good conversationalist.
Probably better to save the
drinking for when you are kicking back with personal friends.
The host should pay for the
meal as well as other charges
such as a tip for the hatcheck. In
the U.S., the preferred seat for
the guest is the one with the
more desirable view. "Ladies
first" rules in the U.S. are less
strict nowadays than many Japanese have been led to believe
but are good to follow to the extent possible, for example,
holding doors for women, holding chairs for women, helping
women on with their coats, and
allowing women to enter and exit elevators first.
Mingling, there's an art to circulating at
a cocktail party-type function.
Strike a balance between talking
to people long enough to make a
connection, but not "glomming
onto them" and monopolizing
"if you'll excuse me I must go and mingle" and gracefully break off the conversation and move on to talk to
By following the above suggestions, you are sure to forge
many useful business relationship.