Part 6 encourages you to pre-understand what your overall schedule and workload is before showing up at any event. Limit the number of conversations (those that require immediate follow-up) based on your ability to follow-up after. The default number to work from is 5 new contacts. So, based on your own schedule, work up or down from there.
Again, for those of you who might be new to my blog posts, everything you will read here is geared towards long-term results. If you are seeking a quick fix or a solution for something with a pending deadline, then this blog is probably not for you.
Excuse Yourself From Shallow Conversations- They Are Wasting Your Time
I almost feel as if I could just say nuf said and close out this blog post here. However, you and I both know that would not be effective enough. We all know when a conversation is going nowhere. Even if we cannot decisively determine this immediately, our gut typically is screaming at us.
Some people ask me why I make a point to discuss walking away from shallow unproductive conversations. On the surface it seems quite intuitive, but the problem is that we all find ourselves in these conversations, yet we still do not walk away. Why?
Some of the business psychology books and others go into better detail on this than I will. The idea is that we tend to live with what we are given and make very little effort to change it. In the book Nudge, by Thaler & Sunstein, they point out that society accepts the ‘default’ setting that we find ourselves in. Their book goes into more detail of course- looking at how government and leadership have a responsibility to plan out the structure of offerings in a way to guide, or nudge, us in a direction that leads us to make better decisions.
So, grant yourself the ability to NOT always accept the conversations you find yourself in by default. If the conversation is not moving in the right direction, then feel free to move on to the next.
Don’t I Look Shallow If I Walk Away?
How you are perceived depends upon how you do this. Perhaps people will see you this way. That may be unavoidable. If you are nervous about how to make the transition, you might practice this ahead of time.
Below are a few tips that I have used and that people I know have used before-
• Feign an incoming phone call from your boss
• Excuse yourself to step away into the restroom
• Step away to ‘talk to a colleague’ you have been trying to meet
The list of excuses and transitions are literally boundless. It just comes down to how creative you are. If you are not good at these transitions, then yes you will need to rehearse. Ultimately, how you look depends upon how smoothly you are able to make the transition.
What If I End Up Walking Away From Too Many Conversations?
At this point there are a couple of things that come to mind. You are either reacting too quickly, or you are at the wrong event. Rare is the occasion that I have had to excuse myself from multiple conversations. It definitely happens, but not often. If the conversations are just that bad, then you will probably do well to feign some excuse and leave the event entirely. If you are like me, you probably have a list of things you have not finished yet that you can now go handle.
If you are walking away from too many conversations, there is actually something else to think about here. You might be pulling the trigger a little too quickly. Many conversations can take a bit to break the ice. As we encounter new people, we all tend be a little nervous.
Hitting a stride or breaking into a natural conversation flow can take a bit longer when meeting new people. So, if you find that you are walking away from too many conversations, you might think about whether or not you are doing the ‘cut-n-run’ just a little too soon.
The take away from this blog is very simple. Do not get trapped in a conversation that is ultimately going nowhere, and that is unproductive. Remember you are at a business networking event, and more than likely you have come to this event with the anticipation of starting new relationships, or finding new synergies for business.
If the conversation veers off to gossip, complaining about problems at work, or other negative areas, this is just not productive. Politely excuse yourself and find your next conversation.
Hold conversations that have purpose and that are productive. Engage with people in meaningful ways, and enjoy the benefits that come as a result.
The remaining topic finishing out the series is-
Part 8: Wrap-Up
Until our paths cross again,