I previously shared ideas on how to start a networking conversation. Of course, the other side of that is how to end such conversations, as pointed out by my friend Neil Thompson of Teach the Geek (www.teachthegeek.com). He said, “When it comes to networking, I struggle with ending conversations. Perhaps you can make a post about how to do so effectively.”
Great suggestion, Neil! I’m sure many have that concern. I know it resonated with me. So, I did a little research.
Expert networkers recommend that at networking events (once they start back up again), you only talk to one person for 5-10 minutes before moving on to work the rest of the room. You certainly don’t want to have started a great conversation with someone and then leave them with a bad taste in their mouth because you abruptly or rudely walked away. Nor do you want to get stuck all night talking with one person when you needed to be mingling.
Therefore, if you find yourself ready to move on, any of the following statements can be used to gracefully exit:
- “It was wonderful to meet you. I’m going to go mingle some more.”
- I don’t want to take up all your time. It was great chatting with you!”
- I’m going to grab another drink [or bite to eat]. It was fantastic to meet you.”
- “I’d love to introduce you to [insert name], who I met tonight.” Once the introductions are complete, you can exit by saying, “I’ll leave you two to get acquainted. It was great visiting with you!”
- It’s been great visiting with you, and I really need to say hello to a few other people. I hope you enjoy the rest of the event.”
- “I’ve got to head off now, but I would love to visit with you some more. Can I have your contact details so we can arrange a meeting?”
- “It was great visiting with you. If I don’t run into you later, I hope to see you at another event soon.”
Just as I suggested for starting discussions, it’s perfectly fine to write these down on an index card or on a note in your phone for ready reference.
Networking is an opportunity to learn from others and share ways you can be of support. Done properly, it is one of the best tools available to help you achieve just about anything you want, personally or professionally. It doesn’t have to be scary. Practice will make what to say come more easily and naturally.
Do you have another suggestion? Please share in the comments.