Almost without exception, social events at scientific conferences are fertile ground for networking, veteran conference attendees say. Those who go to such activities are usually eager to meet people and are often more relaxed than during the tightly scheduled scientific sessions. Nevertheless, not all social events are created equal. Here is a guide to some of them.

Mixers: Many societies hold a mixer or reception on the first night of a conference; others schedule a mixer later in the meeting. One drawback of an opening mixer is that you can't use something from the meeting itself to break the ice in conversation. In addition, names may not yet have been linked with faces. Opening mixers are a great place, however, for old friends to meet. A mixer later in the meeting is a good place to approach someone whose talk you liked but whom you couldn't get a chance to...

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