Wait for someone to approach you to begin a conversation
Admit that sometimes these functions are awkward for you and ask the person for tips on how he/she goes about getting to know someone.
Try meeting people around the food table and talk about how great the shrimp dip tastes.
Ask others interesting questions.
Talk comfortably on a wide range of subjects.
Always pick up the conversation when others run out of things to say.
Compliment them on they have said.
Ask others to join your conversation to hear what he/she is saying.
Be a good listener, provide responsive gestures and ask good follow-up questions.
Keep up-to-date on current events, sports, music, emerging trends in your field.
Ask the host in advance for a list of guests/vendors and their backgrounds.
Bring a small note pad and pen to write down contact information or schedule meetings.
Politely excuse yourself and continue to meet other people
Not be too quick to judge
Continue to talk to them but try to get others to join in the conversation so you can meet new people.
Suggest they excuse themselves from the function and go to a restaurant to talk confidentially about your career or possible job opportunities.
Set an appointment to meet with them at a later date.
Ask for their business card and permission to call in a few days.
Politely involve them in all of your conversations.
Tell them to get lost.
Excuse yourself, indicating that you have to meet someone or even visit the restroom.
Casual conversation about the weather, sports, movies, pets or common interests
A brief background on your career and the type of position you are seeking
Questions about his/her career or why he/she is attending the function