Advice for people at parties, networking meetups and other large social events who want to meet others but are reluctant to approach strangers:
Bring a small notepad and pen or pencil. Start writing or drawing. Sooner or later, someone will come to you and ask what you’re writing or drawing. And now, you’re in a conversation.
It doesn’t matter what you write or draw. The point is to attract others to break the ice in a way that’s painless for you. (Personally, I like to scrawl observations to answer the question that my wife will ask after the event: “How did it go?” But each to his or her own.)
The event’s host may approach you and ask what you’re doing. The host may suspect that you’re a journalist or some other nosy and unwelcome character planning to tell the world something nasty about his or her private, invitees-only affair.
Don’t sweat it. Instead, tell the host the truth. Odds are that he or she will understand.
Meanwhile, event attendees who approach you will probably be glad that you’ve given them a way to start a conversation. You’re not the only one uneasy about approaching strangers.