Step one, read a lot. (Or watch a lot of random YouTube videos.)
The goal is to learn a little bit about a lot of different topics. Not so that you can show off your knowledge, but so that you can ask good questions.
Which means you just have to know enough to be entry level on a given subject.
Step two, when you’re talking with someone, after the obligatory small talk, find out what they’re interested in.
One question you can ask to find this out is: If you could have a whole weekend unencumbered to research something, what would it be?
Step three, be curious.
This is where you start asking questions about the topic they’re interested in. If you don’t know what kind of question to ask, a good place to start is to ask: If I was just starting out learning about this subject, where would be a good place to begin?
Step four, genuinely listen.
Eye contact is usually ideal. You can also throw in a head nod here and there for good measure. And an assenting “hmmm…” never hurts either.
Once you’re done talking, thank them for the nice conversation and comment on how much you learned.
Repeat steps one through four for the next person you talk to.
Soon you will be the talk of the party. People will comment on what an interesting person you are and how you were the best conversation they had all night.
– Zac Smith, VC