So last night I went to a social event to rub shoulders with people in the academic field. I saw and thanked one of my professors (since he was the only one of them there), and while talking to him briefly met another man. As I was walking around the place later (a really neat museum of memorabilia), that same man said "Don't be afraid to introduce yourself to people." I wasn't afraid, but in the several instances I had tried before that point, I could tell I was interrupting conversations and therefore I was not getting the chance to really talk to who I spoke to in those cases. So, I looked for chances to talk to people who were not already busy with others. The first I spoke to was a graduate of one of the schools I plan to apply to, and we discussed his experience there. He suggested I talk to his advisor there, which I did a little while later. I had been reading a paper written by him that will be presented Monday, so I at least had some things to talk about with him. He was very friendly and took some interest in our conversation, and introduced me to his wife (who is the dean of the business school there). Towards the end of our conversation, a student came up and spoke briefly with him. It turned out that he had recommended the student to another program when his school was unable to accept the student. That student and I ended up talking for a while about his background, and I found out we had some interesting things in common. He strongly recommended the school where he is working on his doctorate, and it turned out that the man who had suggested I talk to people earlier in the evening is one of his advisors. I thought that was quite an interesting way to learn about the people I was meeting. I also felt hopeful from the various people I talked to that I should be able to get in to the schools where I'll be applying. It was a lovely evening.