I often get asked about the best way to end a conversation in a networking situation. Candidly, I think the answer is pretty simple. So, I’ll start this piece with the “simple solution.” In addition, for those of you who love to over-think things, I’ll give you some other “exit lines” options below.
The Simple Solution Saying
- Simply say something like, “It was really nice meeting you. Do you have a card so I can have your contact information? Thanks.” That’s it. Do not apologize because you have to go network and definitely do not say you see someone else you need to talk to. Simply thank them, end a conversation, and move on.
- Frame what you liked about the conversation or recap part of the conversation that you found most interesting and then state your simple solution saying above.
- If they say something that makes you think of someone else they should meet — tell them and promise to make an introduction. If the other person is there at the event, make the introduction on the spot. Being a “connector” at a networking event is always a good thing.
- Invite them to participate with you in another networking meeting you go to regularly, such as BNI. They may want to get out and meet more people. This is a great chance to connect them to another network of individuals and it gives you a chance to meet them again at your next BNI meeting.
The Exit Lines
For those of you who want more ways to end a conversation — I’ve read all kinds of “exit lines” and unless they are absolutely true — I don’t recommend most of them. Whether you’re ready to wrap it up immediately or have time for courtesies, here are a handful of efficient exit lines. Keep it simple and keep it honest. OK, you want to know what some of those other lines I recommend to end a conversation are — here you go:
- I’ve got to get home by “X” o’clock to have dinner with the family
- It’s been nice meeting you, I need to run to the restroom
- I’ve got a deadline on a project and I need to take off
Anything similar to the above suggestions is fine but don’t fib. If you really have to leave and do something tell them. Otherwise, simply doing what I say above in your simple solution saying will work fine to end a conversation without offending anyone around you at your networking events.
Whatever you do, don’t “Seinfeld it.”
One of the really funny things on the old TV series Seinfeld was how the characters would go off on some crazy, complicated subterfuge or ruse and end up getting in more trouble than if they had just been candid to start with. Be polite, but be honest and direct. “Seinfeld-ing it” almost always fails and both you and the other person end up uncomfortable.
Remember: Don’t overthink it. Be polite and friendly. Don’t make excuses and politely move on. The real key about ending a conversation is how you follow up!