You’ve met an interesting person, had a nice conversation and exchanged business cards. Now you want to move on to meet other people. No doubt you’ve experienced this yourself when you were at a networking function.
Plan Your Escape
You don’t want to be rude and just turn away, leaving the other person standing alone in the middle of a crowded room. After all, you were taught as a child to be polite and considerate of other people.
But you’re an adult now and you’re in control of the situation. It’s most likely the other person you’re talking to wants to move on, too. Neither of you knows how to make the break.
One technique is to invite someone you know who is standing nearby to join you. “Hi, Jack, I’d like you to meet my new friend, Melanie. You’re both are in the same business and I know you’d have a lot in common.” Then, after they have started a conversation, gently slip away.
Or, you can suggest moving to another group, by saying, “There are a few people over there I think you’d enjoy meeting. Let me introduce you.” Join in the conversation when it’s appropriate. Then you can move on to another person or group.
You’re Not Being Rude
You’re not being rude when you simply suggest that you end your conversation. It’s how you present yourself and what you say. “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed our conversation, John. We’re both here to meet new people. Let’s connect after this meeting so we can continue our discussion.”
Say this with a smile. If you’re feeling the need to move on, you can bet John is glad you made the first move in such a gracious way. The purpose of networking is to make connections. It’s the beginning, not the end of the relationship.
Detaching a Barnacle
A lot of people who attend networking events are inept at understanding the unspoken rules, or are uncomfortable when meeting new people. If someone attaches herself to you like a barnacle, you need to pry her off. First try the techniques we’ve suggested. If she continues talking or follows you from group to group what do you do?
Well, there is always the restroom excuse. Or, you could say, “Excuse me, but I have an important call I’ve scheduled with a client. I need to find a quiet place. I’ve enjoyed our conversation.” Then walk away. That should do the trick.
Don’t be Boorish
While it’s perfectly polite to move on to talk to other people, don’t be a boor and make these networking mistakes:
- Shoving your card at everyone you meet. That’s equivalent to sending spam on the Internet.
- Making a blatant sales pitch for your product or service. You’re there to make a connection that may lead to business. First, start the relationship.
- Not following up when you say you will. If you say you are going to call or send a report or promise to make a referral to someone else, then do it.
- Not sending a thank-you note to someone at a networking event who makes a referral for you.
- Barging into a conversation between two people. Instead, find a group and be prepared with an opener like, “This looks like a friendly group. May I join you?” In order for them to remember your first name, repeat it. “I’m Mary – Mary Jones.”
- Asking for a favor and not offering to help in return.
You can get a lot out of networking if you know how. What are the techniques you’ve used to escape a conversation? What other do’s and don’ts can you share with us? Use the comment box below to let us know.