Best Practices on How to Control the Path of a Networking Conversation

Have you ever found yourself “stuck” in the middle of a never-ending monologue that is being conducted by a fellow networker? There’s seemingly no end in sight and while you’ve stopped listening to plan your escape, they go on and on.

It’s a common complaint or at least one that has been shared with me and so I thought it might be beneficial to provide my take on how to rein in these “out-of-control” networkers:

Use questions to turn the monologue into a conversation
Your networking contact might be unaware that they are monopolizing the conversation so help them out by taking control of the situation. Wait until there is a brief pause and be ready to jump in with a controlling question that is designed to shutdown the monologue and prompt dialogue. I’m comfortable with saying something like this, “that’s very interesting. Would you like to know how/why/what _________?”  If you discover that they have a complete lack of interest in anything that you wish to share you should politely terminate and move on. This person is totally clueless about the true meaning of networking.

Suggest a follow-up at a future time
Let’s face it – you attend networking events to meet people so getting tied down in a conversation with one person for an extended period of time will impact the number of people with whom you can connect. It’s perfectly okay to tell someone that you’re enjoying the conversation but want to continue it in a phone call or in-person meeting so that both of you have the opportunity to chat with others. If appropriate you can even attempt to schedule the follow-up meeting right then and there.

Set an agenda for your networking 0ne-to-one
I have found it to be incredibly beneficial if I establish an agenda when I sit down for a meeting with a networking contact. By doing that we both understand our mutual time constraints and can can best plan for how we will use the time. It also eliminates any of the awkwardness that comes from one person monopolizing the conversation.

Networking can play an important role in your business development efforts and help you to open doors to increased connections but positive results won’t happen if you allow networking conversations to become fruitless and a waste of time.

Time is a precious commodity so use it wisely.

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