Networking events are often awful experiences because people are there "working," not having fun and making new friends. You should be at these events to make friends, because in the long run we help out our friends, not strangers with business cards. Here are a few tips to make new friends at events:
Adversity creates the best bonding moments.
Overcoming even the most minor obstacles can create a "bonding moment" between you and a stranger:
1. Running to catch the elevator
2. Searching for the coatcheck
3. Being the first few to arrive or last few to leave
4. Arriving late and waiting out in the hall for the opportune moment to enter a room
5. Waiting your turn to speak to a panelist after a discussion
These anxiety producing moments are great moments to make friends. A well placed joke or even a simple introduction and handshake can alleviate anxiety for you and your new friend. Especially when this moment happens early in the evening, you'll have someone in the room you "know" to follow up with later.