Traditional networking events revolve around activities such as happy hours, conferences and seminars, but social gatherings are also a great place to meet new people. Whether you’re searching for a new job, clients or just want to expand your contact list, the next party you attend will likely have plenty of talented professionals in attendance.

Mixing business with pleasure is somewhat of an art form. Use these four tips to leave the next social gathering on your calendar with a few new contacts.

Prepare Talking Points

If you want to join a conversation, you need something interesting to talk about. Prior to the event, think of a few topics of discussion or stories to bring up if you’re at a loss for words. Knowing you have talking points to fall back should make you feel more comfortable especially if you tend to be shy around new people.

Assess Body Language

If someone makes eye contact with you or you notice a couple people talking, but facing outward, take this as a sign they’re ready and willing to chat. On the other hand, groups of people huddled close together in deep conversation or those erupting in fits of laughter in the corner probably do not want to be disturbed by an outsider.

Fully Engage in Each Conversation

Feeling like a temporary distraction until someone better comes along to talk with feels pretty bad, so make sure you don’t inadvertently do this to someone. During a conversation, make eye contact with the person, instead of looking over their shoulder to scan the room and see who else you could be talking to.

Don’t Pitch Yourself

Save your elevator pitch for a standard networking event. If you meet someone who works for a company you’re interested in, simply exchange business cards with the person. This isn’t the time or place to sell yourself for a job, as doing so will make you appear desperate, aggressive or both.

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