Have you ever chosen not to speak with someone at an event? In some form, we have all done this. Maybe you evaluated their appearance, how accessible they seemed, saw the company name on their name badge, or heard them speak in a less sophisticated way and judged that getting to know them would be of little value. Premature discrimination is one of the largest inhibitors to successful networking.
Let's reverse the perspective...think about your appearance at the last networking event that you attended. You were most likely well dressed, outgoing and well spoken, but take the simple example of your name badge. It has a company name on it. Whether it is your company or the name represents your current employer, is the company name on your name badge the sum total of your professional experience and background. Does the name of the company work for represent all of the contacts that you have and all of the communities that you are connected too? Would someone be short changing them self by assuming your depth of knowledge does not extend past this experience? Think of the diversity of knowledge and relationships that you possess which goes far beyond what you are doing now.
Like onions each of us has layers. Every person that each of us walks by at a networking event has incredible value, it's just not obvious. Take a risk. Extend your hand to people because they look and sound different. Learn about them. You’ll be amazed at the wonderful stories that you will hear and the powerful connections that you will make.