Here you are. Maybe someone dragged and begged you to come out or you’ve decided to give this party where you hardly know anyone a shot. Either way, being able to socialize and connect with people is a skill you need to have not only for social reasons but in order to succeed in your professional life.

Yet parties can be a daunting experience for many of us. Even those without anxieties may fear the task of surmounting social barriers to schmooze as they’d like or think they should. Not recognizing a familiar face amongst the sea can seem like a nightmare, but these few tips should help you on your way to mingling like a pro.

Paradoxical as it may seem, perhaps the best way to socialize naturally is to not place such importance on socializing naturally. Worrying about coming across well, saying the right thing, or being interesting tends to drown out your natural charisma–don’t get in your own head.

Have a way to relax or prevent the stress. Some find it helpful to barrel forward and introduce themselves before they have time to second guess, others like to survey and, perhaps, find somebody more anxious looking than themselves to strike it up with. Enjoy a couple of drinks and talk to someone.

Making first contact will get the ball rolling – targeting somebody apparently gregarious or well known may lead to introductions. Leaping straight into a group is a fine plan, too. If some people are watching TV, playing a game, or anything other than simply talking, just ask if you can join.

Look: it’s a party. It’s expected that others will join others in the middle of a discussion or activity. Contextual comments about something being discussed and witty jokes are well and good, but “hi, my name is John” or “how do you guys know each other?” are absolutely sufficient as well.

If you’re witty, be funny – Everyone likes humour so if you have a way with the humorous words, use them. Besides, humour is one of the most attractive features, so girls will appreciate it as well.

Whenever you meet someone, keep the conversation focused on them – People love talking about themselves and the more they do it, they more the will associate their positive experience with you. Ask about their job and their hobbies, don’t seem interest, be interested.

Be positive and energetic – No one likes a downer or someone who complains a lot so the more enthusiastic and optimistic you are about life, the more people will be drawn to you.

Be honest with the friend that brought you along – before heading to the party or with a simple phone call, remind your friend to introduce you to people since they’re not your friends; your friend will be happy to help.

Once you’re in, treat people like they were already your friends before you arrived. Perhaps make that nice and respectful friends unless you’re certain something rowdy or irreverent would go over well. You don’t need to be the life of the party, but anything conducive to others’ good time will see you warmly welcomed.