Small talk has a bad reputation among some of you, who see it as a fake courtesy and a waste of everyone's time. But every seasoned consultant knows that's simply false - small talk serves an extremely important function.
Without small talk you rarely get to the real conversation. Jumping straight into difficult topics with whom you have a new or fragile relationship, understandably, does not feel natural. It signals that you are there to complete a transaction.
Even when this is the case and the parties are indeed only interested in "getting work done", some level of small talk is required to make the best of it.
If your client or prospect sees the conversations as a strictly necessary step to complete a transaction, you will be subject to commodification pressures. The personality and uniqueness of both parties don't get the chance to shine, which creates a limit to the level of trust and collaboration between you.
Small talk will not only make prospects remember you better, but it also clears the way for a more intimate conversation with clients. Consultants who master it are experts at making others feel valued and included. This goes a long way to building strong relationships.
Always begin and end your business conversation with small talk to humanize the relationship. People choose consultants as much for their ability to make them feel secure and comfortable as they do for their expertise.