This week the challenge caused me to try to connect with more strangers than normal. As I did so, I found that the tried and true method of simply smiling worked best. (I guess that's why it is the "tried and true" method, right?!) :) No wonder my mother always counseled me to smile when I was small. Smile engage almost everyone and even disarm most people if they're uptight or not happy.
I also found that commenting on people's children or pets (especially when hiking or walking) works great to make a connection and sometimes even start a brief or extended conversation.