Guidelines for being charming at a party:
1. Be interesting: Wear attractive, but interesting, clothing—something that reflects who you are. If you like travel, for example, wear a shirt, scarf, tie or jewelry from another country, or wear something that reflects your ethnic background, or a hobby (sports, the outdoors, a Hawaiian-type shirt with surfboards, gardening implements or an animal print) or a holiday pin. It will help start conversations.
2. Pay attention: Look around you, and seek to make friends. Notice who’s around you and what’s interesting or attractive about them, Find an interesting thing about what they’re wearing, and compliment it. "Excuse me, but I couldn’t help noticing that gorgeous color -- it looks great on you." or, "What a fascinating watch! Where did you get it?"
3. Prepare in advance: Read up on some current topics to talk about—the background doings of a hit movie, some new technology advance, or a cool new trend. Then, when someone wants to talk to you, you’ll have something to say.
4. Find a way to help: What needs doing that you might enjoy? If you haven’t experienced this event before, I recommend finding a “job” to do. Don’t just say “what can I do to help?” Instead, volunteer for something specific: to greet people and take coats, or keep the food table replenished, or refill drinks. It will give you a feeling of belonging, a great excuse to meet everyone, and you’ll be busy enough to keep your nervousness at bay. The host or hostess will be grateful and remember you later.
5. Follow through: If you do meet someone you’d like to know better, follow the party with an invitation for coffee. The best friendships begin in these social situations.
Once you are meeting people, you need to create the proper energy level to be charming and attractive. Match your energy to the energy of the people at the event. Obviously, if you’re dancing or eating barbecue poolside, the energy level will be pretty high. If you’re having quiet conversations at a cocktail party, discussing books, or sitting down to dinner, the energy will be more mellow and focused.
Conversations at events you attend should be like tennis matches. That is, the other person “serves” he or she asks a question or makes a statement. Then, you “volley” back you answer the question with the kind of answer that invites a response. For example:
He: “How do you know our hostess?”
You: “We went to school together. I like Pam’s friendliness, don’t you?”
This invites your companion to respond, and keeps the “volley” going. If the conversational thread ends, The next “serve” is yours. If you have to re-start the conversation too often, excuse yourself and move on. That person is not interested enough. If you force the other person to do all the conversational “work” he or she will move on pretty quickly. One-syllable answers are a pretty clear indication of lack of interest, even if you didn’t mean it to be that way. Instead, turn on your charm, and the other person will want more time with you.