Body language is a bugger. If you’re feeling anxious you’ll probably be all scrunched up, sticking to a safe corner or stuck near the door, your escape route. If you know you’re going to struggle with confidence go find the bar and prop yourself up against it. People prop themselves up against bars all the time, even confident people, whereas trying to cram yourself into a corner and achieve total invisibility always looks conspicuous.
The bar is also a prime location to snag interesting people, since almost everyone will make their way there at one point or another. Whether or not you’re drinking, position yourself a few steps from the bar so you can can easily strike up conversations. If that’s a bridge too far and you’re really struggling, see if you can spot a fellow nervous delegate and team up with them to both your benefits.
Remember that while you might feel petrified, it rarely shows on the outside. Just knowing you look cool and calm even though you’re shaking inside makes the whole thing so much easier. Another simple trick is to turn up early so you can build your confidence up watching others arrive. It gives you the chance to engage one-on-one with a few people away from the noise and bustle, making a first impression before people get handshake fatigue.