I like this post from Life 2.0 - it's just a picture of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs chatting together. What struck me was the look of honest joy and engagement. Do you get the impression that these guys are INTO what they do?
Sure, they are mega rich. But that's not what I see in the picture. If someone snapped your picture at a conference meal, would they get the same impression?
There's a big difference between idle chit chat and energetic conversation. Keith Ferrazzi, author of Never Eat Alone, suggests we skip the idle stuff and go deep fast. I used to be a conference chit chatter. A couple months ago, I went to a conference and decided to try the intimacy path. Several people responded with discomfort and mild shock. After all, we are all very well trained on conference chit chat protocol, but few expect or know how to go deep fast.
I scared a few people off and that's OK. Those that stayed and played were much more interesting.