We’ve all been at business networking events where a conversation with someone takes much longer than we expected (or wanted). I am often asked about the best way to end a conversation in a networking situation. My answer is a simple solution with some easy options.
- You can say, “It was really nice meeting you. May I have your card so I have your contact information? Thanks.” That’s it. There is no need to apologize because you want to go and continue networking, and you absolutely don’t want to say that you just saw someone else you need to talk to. You simply thank them after you get
their business card, end the conversation, and move on.
- An option is to tell them what you liked about the conversation that you had together, or recap something from the conversation that you found interesting and then say the same thing from #1, “It was really nice meeting you. May I have your card so I can have your contact information? Thanks.”
- If they say something during your conversation that makes you think of somebody you know who could be beneficial for them to meet, tell them about that person and offer to make an introduction. Then be sure to follow-up and do it! If the other person is also attending the event, you can make the introduction right then and there. It is always a good thing to be a “connector” at a networking event. Once those two are connected and in their own conversation, you can go network with others at the event.
- One more option is: You may want to invite them to be your guest at another networking meeting that you regularly attend, such as your BNI® chapter meeting. This is a great opportunity to connect them to another network of professionals. It is also a good way for the two of you to meet again and continue to get to know one other.
What about “Exit Lines”?
Some people want more ways to end a conversation. There are many “exit lines” out there and I’ve seen a lot of them. I strongly recommend that you do not use them unless they are absolutely true. I offer three efficient exit lines that work whether you’re ready to wrap it up immediately or you have time for courtesies.
Remember to keep it simple and keep it honest.
- I have to be home by “x” o’clock to have dinner with my family.
- I have a deadline on a project, and I need to leave now.
- It’s been nice to meet you, however, I need to go to the washroom.
You can use anything that is similar to these three suggestions, as long as it is true. If you really have to leave the event to do something, tell them so. And then leave the event.
Otherwise, you can simply use the solution in #1 above. It is an effective way to end a conversation without offending anyone at your networking events.
Follow-up Is Key
What you do AFTER you meet someone at a networking event is just as important as the initial conversation you have with them. I recommend the 24/7/30 Follow-up System:
Drop them a note, text, or email within 24 hours.
Connect with them on social media within 7 days.
Reach out to them within 30 days to set up a one-to-one meeting.
This approach helps you establish a powerful routine to make your networking efforts more meaningful and successful.
When it comes to ending a conversation at a networking event, remember that you don’t need to overthink it. Keep it simple. Be polite, friendly, and honest. Don’t make excuses and respectfully move on from the conversation. And of course, be timely and professional with your follow-up.