It can be an awkward moment for you at a networking event. You want to move on, but aren’t sure how to make a graceful exit.
Having attending countless events and finding myself in that situation many times, I find it helpful to anticipate when I want to end the conversation, give a reason for moving on and then say something to make the other person feel good about the time we spent together.
Here are five ways you can use to end the conversation at an event.
The first way is to just respectfully end the conversation. Sometimes, even when you’ve met someone interesting, the time comes when you’re ready to move on. You might say something like, “Clyde, it was nice to meet you. I’m going to take a look at some of the other exhibits here, but if I don’t run into you later, I hope to see you at another event soon.”
Number two is to offer to connect later. If you meet someone that is a valuable contact, make sure to exchange information before you leave. For example, “Clyde, I have to leave, but I really enjoyed meeting you. Is it possible to get your contact information so we can schedule a time for us to finish our conversation?”
Number three is to plan a follow-up date. If you think that you’ll run into this contact at another upcoming event, why not plan to attend together? This helps you build a relationship with a good connection and can help you feel more comfortable at the next event. For example, “It was great to meet you today. Are you planning to go to the association’s meeting next month? If so, maybe we could go together.”
Number four is to get advice and move on. A new contact can be a valuable resource, but that doesn’t mean you need a stay with them the entire time. When it’s time to part ways, be honest that you’d like to follow up at a later date, and then say a polite goodbye. For example, “Clyde, I’m a new member at the Chamber of Commerce and you have been a member here for quite some time. I would love to get your advice on how I can best get involved with the chamber. I want to talk to a few others here tonight, but can we plan to connect next week?”
Number five is to just end the conversation and move on. Sometimes, you just want to move on because you would like to meet more people. For example, “Clyde, it’s been great to meet you. I want to move on because I promised myself, I want to meet at least five new people tonight.”
Another option is to simply pull in a third person and invite them to join in the conversation.
What to do? If attending networking events is important to you, master the skill of gracefully exiting conversations. The time is now.