I'm useless at small talk. Weather, football, what do you do you? Yawn.

However, I actually enjoy networking events and find it easy to make meaningful connections that last, quickly. As a business owner myself, I need to make connections, but I don't have time to waste, so it's important to me to find a way to make the time effective.

There isn't a secret I'm going to share, it's a simple and obvious fact - people are interested in people who show an interest in them. 

This is why I hate small talk, you're not showing any interest in me, I'm not showing any interest in you, we are just talking to fill the air, kill time and hide from the rest of the group. Why have we come here again?

So, try this instead. Ask a question that will help you understand more about the other person. If you are in a networking session, does it help you to understand what the other person's profession is (you've probably got that from their badge anyway), or is it more useful to ask them 'what problem do you solve for your clients?'

I'll get a lot more insight from the answer to that question, about what drives them, and where some of their challenges might be. I might even get the cues for a few more probing questions that lead me  to where I can actually help them right now.

Conversation started, insight shared, we've both got something valuable and memorable from the encounter. I'll pick the small things up later from your LinkedIn profile.

Then we can talk about the football.

Read the article below from Vanessa Van Edwards for a few tips on going deeper to get to the meaningful stuff.