by Vadim Slavin
As promised in my last blog entry, I'd like to address the topic of efficient networking and bringing to a close stale conversations. I called it "Knowing your No's".
You've been there, I am sure of it. You're talking to someone new at a networking event. You are eager to identify the threads that connect you only to discover that the two of you have nothing in common. Furthermore, you are sure you cannot bring value to each other and any further interaction is simply a lost opportunity to connect with someone else. We're talking about efficiency here! Worse yet, you have probably been on the other side of that handshake oblivious to the fact that your partner is trying to shake you off.
Here are some signs for you to read your partner's attempts at breaking away from your grasp. Watch for repeated glances over your shoulders or instinctive eye scans of the room. A disengaged person instinctively rotates their body away from you. It could be their shoulders or their feet. A defensive stance with arms crossed on the chest is another sure sign you are testing your partner's resolve to be polite.
No matter if you are the one sending these signs or receiving them, here are a few simple tips which can help you end a conversation with grace and assert your mastery of making meaningful connections.
- Be polite but firm. No need to be rude but it pays to be confident in your actions.
- Introduce a friend in order to switch the dynamic of the conversation which is going nowhere. Simply pull a new person into the conversation creating a pause for your imminent 'escape'.
- Bring a conversation full circle to take the air out of the conversation. For example, if the conversation started with a discussion of a common acquaintance you have in mind, you can say "Great, I will let Yuri know we chatted - it was an interesting coincidence we both knew him from the same conference. It was great talking to you - thank you!". A firm handshake should be enough to break away.
- Excuse yourself with or without a reason. Whether you need to take a bathroom break, get a refill on your drink, or quickly catch someone you have been chasing all night - you can excuse yourself at this opportune moment. However, do not feel like you owe an explanation. Simply stating "Please excuse me. It was great chatting with you" should be enough. Make sure to follow with a brief but firm handshake to avoid lingering contact.
- Close with a follow up if you are considering connecting with this person in the future. End the conversation with something along the lines of: "I am sorry I have to go but let's connect on LinkedIn and let me get back to you on that information I mentioned earlier".
I hope these tips will help you save some time at the next networking event and increase the chance of making meaningful, long lasting connections. If you have any other tips to share, please post them in the comments below.