I was at a networking reception the other evening and spotted a partner from my firm talking with someone... I walked over, and after quick introductions, could tell my partner was trapped in a conversation going nowhere by an attendee with nothing much to say. A nice guy to be sure, but not productive as a contact.
"It is so good to meet you Joe (not his real name)." I said. "Do you mind if I steal my partner away for the moment?"
Working as a team at a reception has tremendous value. I'll cover your back, you'll cover mine. Working with a teammate has incredible advantages. I can cover twice as much ground, compare notes, be strategic, AND, have a savior when I'm trapped.
Consider making it a rule to attend business events with an ally whenever possible. Not only can it be a strategically valuable choice, It can also be strengthening to know you're not alone.