It must be said, not every connection you make will be a good one, for business or personally. Often you can find this out in an initial meeting, but you also never know. That is why it important to have a graceful way to exit the conversation when networking.
Sometimes I will spend a great deal of time chatting with someone only to find out that they have an attorney they have used for years, or they are so into talking about their business or life that you know you are missing out on other connections. In these situations it is important to know how to graciously “cut bait.”
One great way to check your self is to give yourself a time limit. In a one hour happy hour event setting I make it a goal to meet 6 people and get business cards so I can follow up. This gives a good 10 minutes to meet someone, give them an indication of who you are and find out enough about them that you can trigger a memory so they will later recognize you.
Hitting your own goal in how many people you approach at an event is a great way to check yourself. This way you have purpose in maximizing conversations.
Now as far as graciously “cutting bait” goes, here are several statements I like to drop, depending on the situation, that leaves no feelings hurt, and helps you get on your way:
- “It’s been great chatting, you have a great story. I hope we can connect another time.”
- “I have to mingle a little bit more, but I’ve really enjoyed the conversation.”
- “Thanks for taking the time to break me into meeting people here. I really appreciate you taking the time. Hopefully we’ll reconnect before we head out.”