I am going to participate to a symposium (or workshop or conference) for the second time. I am a PhD student and I'm not going to present anything there.
I know that networking is very important but I'm so bad at it! The first time I spent my time mostly with people of my group or directly involved in my project, and occasionally speaking with people I had met before once or twice (but almost exclusively when they were talking with the people of my group/project). In both cases the conversation was just small talk (I like this buffet, the weather is nice, there is a seminar next week at our institute) or was led by the other people, and I would intervene if directly involved or if I knew the technical topic well (e.g., I am using the same library, I had the same problem...)
I would like to try this so much praised networking, but I fear I will do just the same as before. I've seen the poster abstracts and there is only one directly related to my project, so I am afraid I will not be able to talk anything technical about other issues. I have a master in Engineering as do most of the other PhD students there, but we have different backgrounds and we have focused on different stuff in our research, so I don't feel talking about problems I have studied five years ago to people who have practiced on them until today. Is it expected to network as a "non-specialist"? I feel like that if I want to talk something to a fellow PhD student (not directly in a project similar to mine), it would be small talk and maybe the daily problems of a PhD student, but this seems like a poor alternative to me.