Elegant Exits: Making the Most of Your Networking Time

Article by Donna FeldmanHas this ever happened to you? You’re at a networking event with the intention of meeting new people, yet you find yourself stuck in one conversation with no end in sight, and you don’t know what to do.

Although you’ve heard us say that networking is about forming relationships over time, when you’re at an event, you probably want to meet as many people as possible. This means circulating through the room and not spending too much time talking with any one person.

Under normal circumstances, you might consider it rude to exit a conversation after only a few minutes, but at a business networking event, after five minutes or so, it’s time for you to exchange cards and move on. When you meet someone you’d like to spend more time with, make an appointment to get together at a later date, and then continue mingling with others.

If you feel awkward ending a conversation after a few minutes, think of it like this — you are doing yourself and your partner a favor. You are honoring your own commitment to make business connections through networking, and, you’re allowing your partner to move on and meet more people as well.

It’s easy to politely end the conversation if you know what to say. Here are some elegant exits for you to use:

“It was nice meeting you. Enjoy the event.”

“I know you’re here to meet as many people as possible so I won’t take any more of your time.”

“Let’s get out our calendars and set up a time to get together.”

“Do you have a business card? I’d love to be in touch.”

“I’ve challenged myself to meet 5 people tonight and I still need to meet 3 more. It’s been nice talking to you.”

“I have something I need to ask [insert name] about. Please excuse me.”

“I want to connect with two more people and then head home for the evening.”

“I’m going to refresh my food or drink. I enjoyed talking to you.”

And last but not least, you can simply introduce the person you’re speaking with to someone else, and then move on to another conversation.

These exits are easy, they’re elegant, and they allow you to move to another person without feeling uncomfortable. The next time you feel stuck in a conversation, we challenge you to use an elegant exit and then move on to a scintillating conversation with someone else.

This article was co-authored by Donna Feldman and Cindy Rold. Donna and Cindy are The Networking Gurus.

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