I'm not shy, I just don't know what to talk about with people. What do people usually talk about?
I've read the usual books (How to win friends, etc.) and I put myself out there. But when I do meet people, it doesn't go anywhere because I don't know what to talk about. I try to avoid politics and religion and most people don't do what I do in science.
I can't stand what people usually talk about. And I'm interested in bettering the human condition. So I like to ask things like: what would your perfect day look like, whom do you admire, and why, if you knew you couldn't fail, what would you do in life.
And there's nothing wrong with politics or religion, if you can still find people who are willing to discuss instead of pontificate.
These are for a specific purpose, but there are some great ideas here for getting to know a person: 36 Questions to Bring You Closer Together.
Or you could just say, “I'm not so great with the small talk. What would you like to talk about?”