Networking Etiquette Tips: How to Exit a Professional Conversation
Career Growth

Networking Etiquette Tips: How to Exit a Professional Conversation

Knowing the proper networking etiquette can make all the difference. Ever wonder how to excuse yourself from an awkward conversation with a colleague? There are three ways actually...
Professional situations sometimes require a special set of graceful skills, and one of those is exiting a conversation without leaving any party feeling unheard, or worse, snubbed. It's essential to know the proper networking etiquette that helps interactions (especially first impressions) so your efforts to communicate well in business hit the mark every time. Here are three strategies for gracefully exiting a professional conversation

networking etiquette trick #1: The wrap-up

At professional events, especially networking events, conversations happen back-to-back, rapid fire. Try recapping the conversation concisely, indicating that you were listening, were interested, and found value in the conversation. If you have yet to exchange information, use that as a natural conversation break. It can act as a subject change with a purpose, without leaving your conversation partner feeling left behind—networking etiquette, Emily Post style. 
The most important thing to remember is that exiting won't always go as planned.

trick #2: The open door

When you need to end the conversation but you really hope to continue later, say so. Don't be afraid to extend an invitation to a working lunch a week or so from now, or suggest a follow-up call. This tactic is great for people you genuinely want to connect with later, as you can select the level of professionalism and the type of follow-up (email, call, lunch) depending on the type of connection you've made.

trick #3: The deferential dip

When time is really tight, and you just need to catch another person, there are two great choices. Option one: offer to come right back (but only if you really intend to do so.) Asking "permission" to pause the conversation and come back to the person after you have spoken with someone else indicates interest in continuing, without a ton of risk of seeming rude. Use sparingly. The second option is apology, with a more vague promise of following up. For conversations that don't feel as essential to continue, saying something like "it was great talking to you, and I hope to again! I've got to go catch so-and-so, sorry to be so abrupt!" in your own words, will most often do the job without leaving any chafed feelings behind.

The most important thing to remember about exiting professional conversations is that they won't always go as planned. If a professional conversation becomes heated, gently indicate that you don't feel the conversation can be productive right now, and that revisiting the topic when people have cooled off will be more productive. If it rambles, gently urge it back on track. If that doesn't work, use one of the three tactics above to minimize wasted time. Above all else, remember that positive, solutions-oriented, yes-minded positions lead to better conversation, always.
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What are your techniques for exiting a conversation without snubbing anyone?