My father in law is amazing for this. He's really an artist with it.He'll enter a room of complete strangers and by the end of the event will usually know everyone and an interesting thing about each of them.
"Find something on them that you can question" was his first tip for me. Find something that's unique, for instance a logo, sports crest, wording, an iPhone and then start asking questions.
"Ask questions that they can't respond yes or no to" was his second tip. Ask questions that lead into other questions, get them talking and feeling comfortable.
"If that fails, that ask them questions about themselves" was his third and last tip. Pop in law had a great point. Everybody loves to talk about themselves. People will share where they work, what they do, how long they've lived there, etc.
I had an open house party I was attending last week for the Royal Theatre in Trail. I wanted to bring someone with me for the drive, so my father in law came along. He doesn't know much about the theatre advertising business, but that didn't stop him from coming to the open house and getting to know everyone. He should have been the sales guy that day.He knew everyone by the time we left and actually had previous connections with one fellow who attended that day... small world.
How do you interact with people? I know for me, if it's business related I can jump in no problem, but if it's a social gathering I tend to hold back or stick with a close few... odd I know. Have you ever considered that interacting with people is actually an art and that it takes time to develop?
Cheers, Matthew A. Hawkins