When I go to an event and get into a good conversation with someone, I have a terrible habit of staying with that person and just talking to them. I get comfortable speaking with the same person, and I also like to have longer, deeper, more meaningful conversations.
That being said, this might not be the best strategy. In fact, I’ve become convinced that you should always leave someone wanting more when you go to events! Here’s why (and how to network effectively at events):
1. You will eventually run out of things to talk about.
It’s true. If you just met this person or you don’t know them that well, you’re going to get to a point when you will both be at a loss for words. It will feel awkward, because you just spent longer than necessary talking, and neither of you will know how to smoothly get out of the conversation without being rude (which wouldn’t be a problem if you’d only been speaking for less than five minutes).
2. You run the risk of getting stuck in a conversation which deters you from your initial goals of attending the event.
I prefer the concept of building relationships to networking, but if you go to an event with the goal in mind of meeting someone in your field or meeting a prospective client, and you get to talking with someone about something entirely different, you’re going to feel disappointed by the end of the evening.
Instead of getting wrapped up in a conversation and then ending the night with the realization that you haven’t remotely achieved your goal, stop the conversation at a reasonable point and ask if you can exchange business cards or if you can check out their website etc. because you had such a good time and you’d like to stay in touch. Then you can move on to someone else and get a little bit closer to achieving that particular event’s goals.
3. If you’re having a great conversation, you want to leave that person wanting to see you again!
The people that I usually want to talk to at events are the ones that I’ve only met briefly before, and we’ve had an awesome conversation before it was interrupted. I want to know more about that person and I want to chat with them again!
If you cover all the main talking points the first time you meet them, they will have no reason to reach out to you at another event, or to check out your website, and so on. Leave them wanting more.
One more thing…
One of the most important things to keep in mind when you use this strategy? Don’t just stop talking and awkwardly slide away!
Always have a good conversation-stopper in your pocket. Finish telling a story, glance at your watch, and say that you have to go greet a person you just noticed / grab a bite to eat / go to the bathroom, etc. Mention that it was nice talking to them and that you’d like to keep in touch (if you would), or that you hope to see them at another event. Have a closing statement or an “out” at the ready!