DEAR HARRIETTE: I was ditched at a holiday party I was dragged to! My friend thought it'd be a great idea to take me to meet all of her friends ... and then she ditched me as soon as she saw all of her other friends. I tried staying in the group, I really did, but my friend did not even introduce me to anyone, and no one spoke to me. I tried making myself approachable by setting down my phone and standing alone by the kitchen counter. This failed as well. I tried introducing myself for a few more minutes, and then realized what a social flop I was. I know my only friend there didn't help me out at all, but I thought I could have been more socially adept. Any tips on how to work a room you don't know anyone in? -- Blooming Social Butterfly, Chicago
DEAR BLOOMING SOCIAL BUTTERFLY: I'm sorry that your friend was so rude. You should speak to her later about how uncomfortable you were. Since she invited you with the presumption of introducing you to her friends, she should have done so. It is OK for you to let her know that you are somewhat socially awkward, and it was very difficult for you to be by yourself at that party.
What you can do in the future is to look around the room at a social function and notice anyone who seems to have a pleasant face or inviting demeanor. Then drum up the courage to walk over to that person and say hello. State your name, and ask the person's name. Say something about yourself that could be a conversation starter. It can be simple: "I'm new in town." "I'm a friend of X's." "I love the holidays. My favorite part is X." Just say something to get a conversation going. When it seems that the moment you started is over, move to another person. You can do it!