To work a room effectively at a business networking event, you need the ability to politely wrap up conversations. If you like to push the “easy button” to move on and talk to others, you’ll find this information helpful.
Networking is about many things, including meeting and having conversations with new people. Finding and chatting with people you already know isn’t necessarily a bad thing since networking is also about cultivating existing relationships. Just keep in mind you can schedule another time to catch up with friends, say over the phone, coffee or lunch. Right now, you have a room full of new people to connect with.
Ending the conversation can feel awkward for a variety of reasons. We don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, or we don’t want them to think we find them boring (which they may or may not be) or we flat out may not be fond of them. In order to work a room and leverage your time effectively, you need to be able to wrap up conversations and excuse yourself politely.
It doesn’t have to be awkward. Think of your conversation-ender as having 3 parts… 1) A sincere compliment, 2) Next steps and 3) Wrap-up reason. Not necessarily in this order.
HERE ARE 4 EXAMPLES:
Example #1 “Marie, I’ve really enjoyed talking about hiking (sincere compliment). I promised myself I would meet and talk to at least 3 people today (wrap-up reason). I’ll be sure to check out the website you mentioned and I’ll see you at at the next event (next step).”
Tip: Always be authentic and honest and don’t give a fake excuse to end the conversation.
Example #2 “John, it was great meeting you. Your web design services are different from the other companies I’ve come across (sincere compliment). We should probably mingle and meet other folks (wrap-up reason). Can I get your business card? I’ll connect you with any graphic designers I feel might be great referral partners for you (next step).”
Tip: Introduce them to someone else or, if you don’t know, ask them who they’d like to meet at the event.
Example #3a “Mike, it’s been great meeting you and learning about your tax services (sincere compliment). You should meet Libby, she’s a bookkeeper and may be a good referral partner for you. Follow me and I’ll introduce you (next step – introduce them at the event). I’m going to go mingle and let you two connect (wrap-up reason).”
Or if Libby isn’t at the event, the conversation might look like this:
Example #3b “Mike, it’s been great meeting you and learning about your tax services (sincere compliment). You should meet my friend Libby. She’s a bookkeeper and may be a good referral partner for you. I’ll send an email to connect you both (next step). I’m going to go mingle some more but watch for the email this afternoon (wrap-up reason and next step).”
Tip: If the person is a great connection for you, schedule a follow up appointment and continue networking with others.
Example #4 “I think we may be able to help one another. Are you interested in talking more by phone or over coffee (sincere compliment – schedule appointment)? Great, I’m going to continue mingling (wrap-up reason), I’ll call you Thursday (next step).”
The more you practice ending conversations in a way that feels right to you, the easier it’ll become. And the bonus is you’re modeling how to politely wrap up a conversation so you can both move on to meet new people. It’s a win – win situation.
For additional examples, plus tips for breaking into a conversation or how to keep a conversation flowing, check out Answers to 5 of the Most Frequently Asked Networking Questions.
Finally, I asked my Facebook friends what wrap-up reasons they’ve used to excuse themselves from conversations at networking events. Here are some of their answers:
“There’s someone I’ve been meaning to talk to. It was so nice meeting you.”
“I’m headed to the bar, can I get you something.”
“I need to start saying my goodbyes…”
“I enjoyed talking to you, I could chat with you for hours. Let’s catch up soon.”
“Well I don’t want to keep you from meeting other great people here, we probably oughta go mingle huh?”
“Please excuse me, there’s someone I need to introduce to someone else.”
“I have a goal of meeting 10 new people. Thank the for being number 4, I’m excited to meet 6 more!”
Plus a few unmentionable suggestions… I’ll just say they know how to have fun brainstorming on Facebook.
Which suggestion above have you used in the past to end conversations at networking events? What other suggestions do you have? Let us know in the comments below.
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