How to Leave a Networking Conversation Gracefully

How-To-Exit-Networking-Conversations-Gracefully

How to Leave a Networking Conversation Gracefully

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How-To-Exit-Networking-Conversations-Gracefully I think we’ve all experienced this situation while networking...

 

You’re at an event and have enjoyed getting to know someone, but then your vibrant conversation comes to an abrupt halt and is replaced with an awkward silence.

 

I used to have this a lot! Have you?

 

Each time it happened, I felt paralyzed. I wanted to move on and meet more people but didn’t want to risk offending the other person by walking away, suggesting I was bored of them.

 

In this situation, you have three choices:

 

1. Stand there smiling awkwardly waiting to for inspiration to strike you with the perfect question that will reignite the conversation.

 

2. Use the “I’m just going to the bathroom” excuse, and then dive in the opposite direction and avoid all eye-contact with them for the rest of the networking event, or

 

3. Try out one of these alternative tactics….

 

How to Leave a Networking Conversation Gracefully 

The Head Honcho Approach

With this approach, you seek out the person you most want to speak with first and connect with them before anyone else. That way, if you get stuck in a conversation with them for the entire event, it’s happy days – you wanted a deep connection with them anyway!

 

For this to work, you need to do your homework. Research the event and its attendees, work out who would be most valuable for you to connect with – or your top 3-5 as often not everyone can make it on the night. Think ahead to some nuggets of information, stories or contacts those people would be most interested in and prepare these in advance, ready to drop into the convo as relevant.

 

Note: watch their body language when you speak to them. While you might be happy to hang out with them all evening, they might have a different agenda, so listen and watch out for signals that it’s time for them to move on and start a new conversation.

The Card Exchange Approach

This approach is very simple.

 

You smile, thank the person for the conversation (ideally mentioning their name and part of the conversation that you particularly enjoyed), then ask if you can exchange business cards so you can stay in touch. It might sound something like this:

 

“It’s been great meeting you this evening – and thanks for that tip about making shorter videos, I’m going to give that a try! Would it be OK to exchange business cards so we can keep in touch?”

 

Voilà, you’ve shown that you’ve not only enjoyed the conversation, but taken some real value away from it, you’ve expressed a desire to stay in touch, and you’ve made a clean, friendly exit.

The New Friend Approach

This approach is very simple. Instead of excusing yourself to go to the bar or the bathroom – you offer to take your new friend with you:

 

“It’s been great getting to know you. I guess we should really get to know some more people as it’s a networking event. Shall we find a new group together?”

 

This is great as it offers the other person options. They can say yes, and meet more people with you, or they can go their own way. Simple and no one is offended, your new friend, remains a friend.

 

If you already know other people in the group, you can offer to introduce them to your new friend.

 

“I’ve seen that my old colleague is here, so I’d like to say ‘hello’ – would you like me to introduce you?”

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The Pro Approach (my favourite!)

This is my favourite way to leave a networking conversation as it has a real impact, and for all the right reasons. It combines elements of the above approaches but has one added element that works really well.

 

As above, start by thanking the person for their conversation…

“Thanks (add their name), I’ve really enjoyed speaking with you this evening.”

 

Make a comment about something you’ve spoken about, e.g. “I’ll check out that networking group you mentioned and let you know how I get on.”

 

Move onto… “I’m aware this is a networking event, so I don’t want to monopolise your time further…”

 

Then say – this is the genius part! – “But before I do, what kind of contacts are you hoping to meet this evening? If I meet anyone that meets that profile, I’ll be sure to introduce you!” If you feel comfortable, lightly touch their elbow when you say this, it will come across as all the more warm and sincere.

 

This parting note has many advantages: they will be happy to let you go and mingle as you’ll be helping their networking efforts; it will invite them to do the same for you; it will make you stand out as someone they are happy to have met as very few people say something along these lines; and it makes you look incredibly considerate and professional.

 

Finally, finish by leaving the door open: “Great! And I’ll be in touch to arrange meeting up for that coffee.”

 

Networking is not about merely collecting as many business cards as you can - it's about starting relationships. That's what makes this such a powerful technique, as the fastest way to build relationships is to help the other person first.

What's your favourite approach?

Have you tried any of the above techniques? Or do you have an approach that works well for you?

Let me know in the comments below.

 

And for LOTS more great networking tips, download my Free eBook: Networking for Business Success. It's part of my Business Success Bundle - designed to help kick-start your success.

 

 

  1. Asa on September 8, 2017 at 2:33 am

    There’s definately a great deal to learn about
    this subject. I like all of the points you have made.

  2. Dieter on September 9, 2017 at 10:26 am

    I would say the “The New Friend Approach” seems to me the one I can feel good with. Networking events are tricky and the objective of homework is good, but sometimes you don’t know who will be there. Once I had the case that I reviewed the guest list, found one interesting person I wanted to meet, that’s the reason why I went there, but exact this one did not show up

    • Melitta Campbell on September 9, 2017 at 10:26 pm

      Yes, that’s true, not everyone shows up on the evening, so it’s good to have a top 5 people you’d like to meet instead of just one to increase your chances.

      Did you check out my eBook on networking? There are LOTS more useful tips in there to help you become a networking ninja:
      https://www.melittacampbell.com/free-ebook/

  3. Marianne Fleischer on September 9, 2017 at 6:33 pm

    As someone who networks often –and actually likes it, your article is right on the money. Networking is my favorite business development activity for commerce and camaraderie. I do many of the same things as a frequent networker at business events.

    I often use one of your suggestions. (Hey are you taking my material?) 🙂

    “It’s been great getting to know you. I guess we should really get to know some more people as it’s a networking event. Shall we find a new group together?” This is great as it offers the other person options. They can say yes, and meet more people with you, or they can go their own way. Simple and no one is offended.”

    • Melitta Campbell on September 9, 2017 at 10:23 pm

      Hi Marianne, thanks for sharing your experiences – good to know that you’ve also found these techniques work well.

  4. Sydney on September 9, 2017 at 6:50 pm

    Thanks for this. I never know how to end it.

    • Melitta Campbell on September 9, 2017 at 10:22 pm

      You’re welcome Sydney – it was always the hardest part of networking for me, so I’m happy to share what I’ve found works really well.

      Let me know how you get on at your next networking event!

  5. Isabel on September 10, 2017 at 5:38 pm

    This is an amazing post! I really found all the tips very useful. Especially since I am truly a shy girl! This was one of the things I made sure to point out in my “about me” page. I just don’t know when I will have the guts to go on my first blogging networking event! We’ll see.

    • Melitta Campbell on September 10, 2017 at 8:04 pm

      Thanks Isabel, I’m so pleased you found it helpful.

      Being a shy girl myself, I struggled with networking for years – but now it’s a core part of my business. Once you get into it, it quickly becomes addictive – you might think that sounds crazy right now, but as you meet more and more amazing, inspiring and supportive people you’ll get to love it.

      Did you download my Shy Girls Guide to Networking eBook yet? If not, you’ll find that helpful – it documents how I got into networking, bit-by-bit, and shares all my best tips from an introvert’s perspective. And it’s free ; )

      Here’s the direct link for you:
      https://www.melittacampbell.com/free-ebook/

  6. Dawnmarie on September 10, 2017 at 8:49 pm

    There are definitely smart and useful ideas in this post. Thank you for sharing some insight, and I will share it with my networking friends.

    • Melitta Campbell on September 11, 2017 at 10:38 am

      Glad you found the post helpful Dawn and thank you for sharing it with your friends!

  7. Magly Delgado on September 11, 2017 at 5:42 am

    This is a wonderful post with actionable tips to apply on any network marketing event. I really have problems leaving a networking conversation but your tips gave me a new insight. Will be applying them soon.

    • Melitta Campbell on September 11, 2017 at 10:39 am

      Thanks Magly, glad you found the tips helpful – report back and let me know how you get on at your next networking event!

  8. NGane on September 11, 2017 at 7:29 pm

    This article couldn’t come at a better time! I am going to an event this week and was already feeling nervous as I am an introvert. I will try one of these techniques out. Thanks for the tips ?

    • Melitta Campbell on September 11, 2017 at 7:32 pm

      That’s great Ngane – did you get my eBook yet? That has lots more tips that will help you out.

      But just remember, it’s not a room full of strangers, just friends you haven’t met yet ; )

      And if all else fails, just take a deep breath, smile and stick your hand out – and everything will work out just fine. The more I network, the more I realise that most people feel awkward about it, so you’ll most likely be helping the other person out by reaching out : )

      Have fun x

  9. Sheree on October 16, 2017 at 4:06 am

    Have you ever considered creating an ebook or guest authoring on other blogs?
    I have a blog centered on the same information you discuss and would really like to
    have you share some stories/information. I know my readers would enjoy
    your work. If you’re even remotely interested, feel free to shoot me an email.

    • Melitta Campbell on October 19, 2017 at 5:04 pm

      Thanks Sheree, glad you enjoy my posts.

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