Get there early. Many shy people “prefer to disappear in the crowd,” so they like to arrive late. But by making friends with a few strangers earlier in the night, “you will know people who can introduce you to others later.”
Walk up and say hi. No one is going to be offended if you promptly introduce yourself and ask their name. They may, however, be bothered by any period of “uncomfortable silence” while you gather the gumption. “People form an opinion of you in the first 10 seconds.” Be brave.
Be a good listener—and questioner. Not everyone you talk to will dazzle you with one “enthralling revelation” after another. But the best way to seem interested is to be interested. “Throw out some Who? What? When? Where? Why? and How? questions.” If you keep your companion talking, they’ll feel flattered, and “you won’t feel pressured to come up with convivial and clever responses.”