Chris wrote a great post about how to get the most out of conferences and networking events. There are a lot of tactics to maximize these events, but Chris added another angle to it – using blogs in order to continue the conversation after the event, as well as gain insights to main topics of interest of the people you meet. This is a crucial aspect in my opinion, which is often overlooked.
One thing I have to add to this post is the importance of similarities. Several studies showed that people like to talk with people similar to them. It is important when talking about dress code for example – when you come over or under dressed, you will find it sometimes harder to initiate a conversation .
This effect also kicks in when you find a biographical or professional similarity between you and the person you are talking with. If both of you are baseball fans of the same team, studied in the same university, or took similar career paths, mentioning it will help the other person to open up.
Last and not least, there is a relevant story to the way you approach a new person:
What’s the difference between sales and marketing?
Sales – you walk into a room full of people, go to the best looking lady and tell her you are great in bed.
Marketing – you walk into a room full of people, the best looking lady comes to you and say – I’ve heard you are great in bed.
So- it is always better to be approached – but if it doesn’t happen, go and talk with as much people as you can.