Ask Questions. Don't Interrogate
A naturally flowing conversation requires participation from at least two people. Do take the first step. You will of course be eager to know further about the other if you meet them for the first time. Who is the other person? What kind of a personality does the other have? While collecting clues about the other, don't act like an interrogator. You may ask how they started working, where they work or with whom they work. However, avoid questions that the other will not be willing to answer, such as their religious or political views, or how much turnover they make.
Even when you're talking to a much more experienced person, you might as well have ideas that are useful for them. Therefore, don't keep your own counsel. Sharing opinions is more than fine unless you arrogantly speak out things that they don't need to hear from you or things to curry favor with them. On the other hand, a suggestion to improve something they need, or a new approach can pave the way for a development in their business. As long as you're sincere about them, your suggestions will prove effective.
Introduce Them With New People
You should not treat an influential figure that you've just met as a treasure you hide from others. Quite the contrary, you need to serve as a bridge between people if you want to add value to your own network. Don't keep your newly-made connections only to yourself. Introduce them to your contacts with mutual interests, similar businesses or professions, if you think they may work together sometime in the future.
Let's say that you know most of the participants in a particular meeting. There, you meet a new person who does not know any of them. After a brief chat, you can introduce them to your friends. Make sure, though, you spend enough time with them before introducing to the others as they may think that you're "dismissing" them.
Introducing two people may be a bit challenging for one who has never done it. The more you do it, the easier it'll be for you to introduce people. Introduce your executive to your client, your coworker to other firm's representative, a newcomer to a senior, men to women, and the young to the older, before mingling all the others.
Be positive while you're talking to people you've just met. This will add to the "warmth" of your connection. Instead of emphasizing how far their company is from the city center, focus on how attractive that area is becoming for many other firms. Both of them may be true. Just pick the positive approach. Never ever mock people for their values, appearance and behaviors.
While talking with people, be there. Don't look preoccupied with something else. You can of course listen to the other while eating and checking your e-mails. However, this will come as rudeness rather than a skill. Give your attention to one single point, i.e., to your counterpart!
We cannot keep all our promises, but you should try your best. Did you tell someone that you'd send an article? Do send it before a week passes. There is no point in doing that after a year, right? They will find that article in one or two days if they really need it, anyway. Unless you can keep your promises, find a good excuse. However, you don't need to come up with excuses if the other is being pushy. Sometimes, a simple "no" is definitely less disappointing.
Don't Trap People
The person you're talking to may turn out to have quite an interesting personality. Your conversation with them may be very insightful. But don't trap them in the conversation acting as if you would never have such a chance again. After all, they may be here for Networking as well. Once they start looking restless and attempt to include one other person in your conversation, thank them for their time, give your business card and leave.
Ertugrul Belen & Optimist Publishing House