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Exiting a conversation gracefully

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in Career Management,Workplace Communication

How do you gracefully exit a conversation during a networking event, without using the same excuse every time? (After all, there are only so many times you can go to the restroom.)

Lynne Waymon, the Silver Spring, Md.-based author of Make Your Contacts Count and co-founder of business networking consulting firm Contacts Count, offers some of her most effective ways to move around the room:

Listen to the other person talk about his interests, then “introduce him to someone else based on a commonality you see,” Waymon says. Example: “Jim, I want to take you over and introduce you to Don. He also just started a new business.” You can stay or move on to introduce yourself to someone you want to meet.

Ask him to come with you. Example: “I want to ask the speaker a question. Want to come along?”

State your objective up front, then excuse yourself to go accomplish it. Example: “I came here hoping to meet someone with expertise in public relations, so I’m going to wind my way around the room and see if I can find someone. Nice meeting you.”

Propose a time to reconnect. Example: “Thanks for telling me about your new project. Let’s connect at next month’s meeting, so I can hear how it’s going.”

— Adapted from “Mastering The Conversational Exit When Networking,” Jennifer Nycz-Conner, Washington Business Journal.

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