As we discussed in last week’s article it is important to not monopolize someone’s time at a networking event. Instead, you should seek to make the initial (memorable) connection, and then follow up with them at a later date. But what do you do if you are the one that someone is clinging to? This could either be someone you just met or someone you have known for decades. Luckily, there are a few key tactics that can help keep you working the room.
Come Armed with a Strategy
Before arriving at the networking event get a sense of who will be in attendance that you would like to either meet or catch up with. By having this list already in mind you can more easily flow from conversation to conversation. Politely say to the person stuck to your side, “Oh, I see so-and-so. I need to speak with them about such-and-such but will meet up with you later. It has been so nice talking to you.” In these situations, you should always be polite but it is also okay to show a bit of urgency.
If you go to the networking event with a friend or colleague it is important that you spell out your expectations beforehand, otherwise, they might just plan on talking to you the entire night. When you are both on the same page you can also help one another get out of awkward conversations or help facilitate introductions.
Recognize Value in Conversations
You may find yourself in a situation that starts as a small discussion but morphs into a larger group. If you realize that you are not contributing to or gaining from the conversation know that your time could probably be spent better elsewhere and gracefully excuse yourself. Luckily, this is not difficult to do in a group conversation.
But you might find yourself in the opposite predicament. If you are in what seems to be a dead-end one-on-one conversation that you just cannot seem to escape from remaining positive. There is always a chance that the conversation could take a turn and you end up learning something valuable. By approaching everything as a learning opportunity you will always walk away having gained something.