One of the questions I am frequently asked with networking is, “how do I get out of a conversation I don’t want to be in?” I have written about this before and it goes without saying that 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.”
Remember in a networking situation that you have goals to accomplish. In a one hour networking event I generally want to meet and befriend 6 new people to extend my network. 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. This is what you are at an event to do, network, so if you feel like you just spent 5 minutes with someone you are not making a good connection with, or you are rub bin yup close to ten minutes, always have a few statements in you back pocket that let you gracefully exit.
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, here’s my card.”
- “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.”
- “I hope you don’t mind, this has been a pleasure, but I’ve made it a goal to meet a few more people while I’m here, so maybe we can connect later.”
You’ll notice that there is nothing really special about any of these statements. Just a more elaborate way to say goodbye. But most importantly, it leaves a person with a feeling of positive regard, so that they can’t help but feel you are leaving on a high note. How about you? How do you graciously “cut bait?”