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  • Mike D.

How to gracefully exit a networking conversation

Holiday networking have you feeling awkward? Wrap things up quickly and politely with these three moves.

Does this sound familiar? You’re at a holiday networking event and meeting as many people as possible when boom!—you get stuck in a corner talking to a terribly nice person who has a whole lot of nothing to say.

Ugh. You don't want to be rude, but there are, in fact, a handful of influential people you were hoping to connect with. Unfortunately, that isn't going to happen if you can't get out of this conversation.

So you need a way out, and stat.

But how? It can feel awkward to exit a conversation, especially when it seems like the other person wants to keep going. You might even be nervous that your sudden BFF will think you’re rude—and hey, just because this person isn’t useful to your career now doesn’t mean he might not be one day. So you don’t really want to leave him with a bad impression of you, either.

The good news is that it’s possible to tactfully end the conversation without ending the relationship. Try these tactics to make a graceful exit.

Make an honest getaway plan

Saying you are going to go to the restroom, get something to eat, or refill your drink is one of the oldest tricks in the book, so it can come off sounding a little canned. Pamela Weinberg, a New York City-based career coach, instead recommends being honest.

“Wrap up your conversation by thanking the person for their time and letting them know that you enjoyed meeting them,” says Weinberg. “Then say something honest like, ‘Please excuse me, I want to catch Jim, my former colleague, to say hello before he leaves.’”

Saying you’re headed off to connect with someone else is perfectly reasonable since it’s a networking event, and the fact that you actually intend to follow through on what you’re saying will make you sound more sincere as you make your exit.

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Elana Ly Gross, Monster Contributor

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