• First, if small talk with strangers leaves you cold, try this quick-connecting trick from body language expert, Patti Wood. Angle your body so your heart is directly opposite the heart of the person you're talking to. And make sure your hands don't obstruct the view. It signals that you're fully present and genuinely interested in them. So, don't be surprised if the conversation gets more sincere in a heartbeat.
  • Then, if someone's monopolizing your time, here's how to shake them off politely. This tip comes from Gayle Hallgren Rezac, author of the book Work the Pond. Simply introduce them to someone else you know. If there's nobody handy, say: "Why don't we go meet some new people." Then, after a few minutes of conversation, graciously excuse yourself. If all else fails, politely say, "Excuse me, but I want to make sure I find my friend before they leave. I'll try to catch up with you later." And don't feel bad. After all, mingling is what parties are all about.
  • And the final bit of party intelligence: Know when to leave. According to FineLiving.com, an invitation for drinks from 6 to 9 p.m. means it's over at 9. And if it's a dinner party, start thinking about leaving about 45 minutes after dessert is served. The idea is: not to cut out too early, and not to hang around until you wear out your welcome.