Despite the dramatic rise of technology and business automation, business is first and foremost, people-driven. And beneficial relationships begin with initiating an authentic conversation — a challenge for more and more people. In this episode of The Very Visible Business Podcast, David Avrin had the privilege of speaking with Debra Fine, the author of the bestselling book The Fine Art of Small Talk: How To Start a Conversation, Keep It Going, Build Networking Skills — and Leave a Positive Impression!

Debra talks about the importance of building rapport and cultivating connections to increase visibility and influence. She also shares some creative and clever tips for initiating a meaningful conversation.


Key Takeaways

  • Small talk is not the negotiation or the provision of the service, but the appetizer in order to build that business, friendship with people and building your network.
  • Redefine small talk as having the skill to initiate conversations.
  • If we’re going to establish positive relationships, it begins with initiating, in a comfortable way, an authentic conversation.
  • To know things about people helps in cultivating relationships with them.
  • Be interested in the other person and remember what you talked about.
  • For introverts, the only person’s comfort they are concerned with during face to face communication is their own.
  • Ask “What’s new with your business since the last time we spoke?” instead of “How is business?”
  • Launch conversation with these phrases “bring me up to date – ” “Catch me up on what’s new with – ”. This gives them the freedom to choose what they want to share and talk about.
  • It’s up to you to assume the burden of other people’s comfort in conversation.
  •  Asking “What keeps you busy outside of your work?” is a great way to start a conversation.
  • John le Carre said that “A desk is a dangerous place to view the world.”
  • If you don’t ask for people’s business, you are not going to get it.


  • “Be interested in the other person and remember what you talked about.” – Debra Fine, Keynote Speaker & Bestselling Author
  • “Small Talk” is simply having the skills to initiate a conversation – Debra Fine, Speaker & Bestselling Author




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