Small talk is boring and will never create any sort of bond between you and someone else. You've probably heard that asking questions is a good approach, but the kind of questions you ask can really liven things up.
Photo by Nicholas Shipes.
Questions can be equally as mundane as small talk if you're not careful. A yes-or-no question doesn't engage anyone or allow any real expression. Instead, Julian Reisinger, the founder of Love Life Solved, suggests you ask about their passions. Reisinger provides an example:
When a friend of yours tells you (or a group) that she went horseback riding and had an amazing time, don't ask "Where did you go?", rather ask "I have never done horseback riding. What makes it so exciting?" I guarantee you that any person who is passionate about the topic will not only teach you a ton -- in an interesting way -- but will also like you more and feel closer to you afterwards.
Go beyond the person, place, or thing and find out why they do what they do. If you don't know what they're passionate about, ask them. People love to talk about their passions, and if you can get to know what they care about, you'll get to know them as a person.