12 Tips for Making Small Talk

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A study at the Stanford University School of Business tracked a group of MBAs 10 years after they graduated. The result? Grade point averages had no bearing on their success -- but their ability to converse with others did.

Being able to connect with others through small talk can lead to big things, according to Debra Fine, author of 'The Fine Art of Small Talk.' A former engineer, Fine recalls being so uncomfortable at networking events that she would hide in the restroom. Now a professional speaker, Fine says the ability to connect with people through small talk is an acquired skill.

Fine and her fellow authorities on schmoozing offer the following tips for starting -- and ending -- conversations: