This evening I set up an information table in the front of the library to advertise my free classes for adults that take place in the back. My goal was to increase our presence in the library and to see if people who were in the library at around class time wanted to be students or volunteer teachers.
People were milling about near me or walking by. Nobody came up to talk to me for a while. Then a boy walked by and looked at the giveaway pencils I had out. He touched one but started to walk away. So I asked him if he wanted one. This led to a simple conversation, after which he walked away with a big smile and a sharp new pencil. About 15 seconds later, a man who had been sitting nearby pretending to ignore me came up to ask about classes. And a small line formed while he and I were talking.
Smiling and having shiny materials did not cause potential students to line up to talk with me. Seeing me be nice to that boy is what started it.
My conclusion: people want to work with people who treat people like people.