How to Leave a Conversation at a Networking Event
Every conversation must end, some earlier than others. When you’re at a networking event, your top priority should be to get to know someone well enough to begin developing a lasting professional relationship with them. Even if you establish a foundation for a business relationship, eventually the conversation must end. So how do you leave without souring the mood? Or, more difficult, how do you end a conversation that may not being going well?
Schedule a follow up meeting
If you are positive that this relationship will benefit both of your businesses, why end the conversation by planning the next one? Exchange contact information, say you’ll reach out later to meet, and make good on your word. Literally pull out your calendar and schedule time to connect again. If your new contact feels your relationship could be mutually beneficial, they’ll have no problem scheduling something or agreeing to try to in the near future.
Simply exchange cards
If you are still trying to decide if this individual will be a good relationship for you in the long run, simply exchange business cards and perhaps send a follow up email to them later. Starting to get to know this new person will help you figure out how you can help them grow their business, or how they can help grow yours.
Bow out pleasantly
If you’re really struggling keeping the conversation going, end your conversation by thanking them for their time, telling them how wonderful it was to chat, and say you are hoping to catch up with them later. Bowing out gracefully can feel awkward, but is your most painless option here.
What is your go-to method to end a conversation? Let me know in the comments below!
8 thoughts on “How to Leave a Conversation at a Networking Event”
I appreciate your writings from time to time. However, I am troubled with the ending to this one under “Bow Out Pleasantly”.
I agree with thanking them for their time, but I do NOT agree that one should be “telling them how wonderful it was to chat, and say you are hoping to catch up with them later.” As it’s written, since the conversation was a struggle, that’s fine – but encouraging comments that are clearly described as not matching the reality, I would instead encourage a different pleasantry that maintains your integrity.
Thanking them for their time is still appropriate, but I would then wishing them “Good luck with your business” and a polite comment such as “I wish you success” or “I hope you find joy in your profession” can be a much more pleasant way to end the conversation and move on with integrity and avoid misleading others. Saying “I hope to catch up later” when that is not a true statement nor a true feeling should be avoided.
One does not need to jeopardize their integrity solely for the sake of attempting to maximum comfort. It’s already uncomfortable, so be nice without stretching the truth. My two cents…
Ivan, I’m happy to see you addressing thorny issues like this one, and in the main I agree with what you present here. I’m well acquainted with your tremendous “Givers Gain” philosophy, so I would suggest a quick brain-scan of who or what you might know that would be beneficial to this person in their business growth, then offer it or invite a later call to discuss or make the connection.
Sometimes there’s just no gracious way to end a conversation that’s not progressing well. My absolute last resort is to look around quickly for someone else I know, then break in with, “I hate to cut this short, but I see someone leaving that I need to speak with. Nice meeting you.”
Another option: once you find out about their business, introduce them to someone else that could be a good connection for them.
Dr. Misner, I have been a fan of your “Givers Gain” for many years. It ‘feels’ right. For over 20 years I have delivered medicine, textbooks, clean water systems, vegetable seeds and seeds of hope and change to small remote villages and refugee camps in Tanzania. Their grateful hearts stole my heart and gave it back bigger. I gained more than I ever gave away.
I quite agree with how awkward this can feel. The schedule a followup is a great idea. I’ve tried to expand on these ideas and referenced your article. https://www.jezweb.com.au/how-to-exit-a-conversation-at-a-networking-event/ Thanks. Jeremy.
you are right: visiting Lara and the US-girls on a trip to New Jersey!
I was searching over search engines about business networking and found your blog site. Well I like your high quality posting abilities. You’re doing a great job. Keep it up
Thank you, Ivan.
#1&3 – good to go.
#2 – not sure if it would work in Asia. I worked in Korea and now work in Singapore and I get literally bombarded by business cards by locals right at the moment you greet each other. Awkward.