Small talk is often key to developing new friendships. Two people who are not friends yet can find out more about their common interests by using small talk to begin a conversation. The more "polite" and common topics (weather, things going on around the people making conversation, basics about the people talking, news items, latest movies), lead to other topics where the two people slowly reveal details about their life, personality, and preferences.
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"I'm going over to the hors d' oeuvres table to make a little small talk with that girl standing by herself."