What should one do to make the most of a networking opportunity, both for you and the people you want to meet/work with?
Do your homework. Learn as much as you can about the person, firm, or industry.
Be conversational. There’s nothing wrong with small talk, because that’s often how you really get to know people.
Thank them in person, and with follow-up note/email. Let them know you appreciate them and their time
Be responsive. Networking is a two-way street. If someone wants to network with you, follow up on it.