This is certainly the time of year for parties, events and gatherings! And while it’s good fun to visit with friends and family, in the business setting, the professional who attends a good deal of events probably does so with a business agenda in mind. While still enjoyable, the event also turns into an opportunity to build current relationships, initiate new connections and discuss business opportunities.
When you wish to accomplish those objectives, getting “stuck” in a non-strategic conversation can be a problem. Just like making sure you don’t miss anyone on your Christmas card list, it’s important to make sure you see all those people important to your success this time of year.
Why do we get “stuck”?
§ There are a lot of people who are not good at getting into conversations, so they don’t want to leave the security of the one they are in.
If this is you…get out there, make eye contact, shake a hand, go get food or drink – but get comfortable getting into conversations.
§ Maybe the person with whom you are speaking does not think you have learned enough about them and their company yet!
If this is you, this is a major networking mistake. Ask more questions about the other person to build a relationship. Talk less and you will be considered much more interesting.
§ The person who you are speaking with is not there to make multiple connections, just to socialize.
If this is you, more power to you – enjoy yourself, but also open the door for the other person to leave if they are looking for more concrete results from their attendance at events.
§ You don’t want to hurt their feelings by cutting off what they are saying.
If this is you, realize that many people will speak to fill the silence, and may be relieved if you end the conversation.
How can you politely get out of a conversation?
§ Start with a thank you such as:
It was good talking to you…
I’ve enjoyed our conversation…
I was surprised to learn (something you learned about them…)
I hope your (vacation, business venture, event they mentioned) goes well…
§ And finish the sentence with something that says you are thinking about them.
I will let you go mingle and meet some more of the attendees.
I’d like you to meet… (Identify someone you want to introduce them to and take them there.)
§ Or finish the sentence with something you need to do.
I’m going to go try that delicious looking food.
I’m going to go get myself something to drink.
If you’ll excuse me, I see someone I need to catch up with.
There is no requirement that you stay in a conversation for as long as it can possibly last. Especially in a business setting, most people have objectives in their head for what they’d like to accomplish.
Have you ever felt “stuck” in a conversation?