How to network without becoming a nuisance

We’ve all been there. You’re at a conference or industry event, making connections like the seasoned pro you are, and someone just won’t take the hint and leave your side. Let’s face it: At one time or another in your life, it’s been YOU who’s the person unable to take the hint and move along. For the good of humanity, here’s quick list (adapted from Dorie Clark, writing at of signals someone is ready to stop talking to you.

Body language

If your interlocutor keeps glancing at her watch, she probably wants to wrap things up. If her responses become dramatically shorter, she’s probably ready to move on from you. And check out her feet: If they’re positioned away from you, she’s likely looking to bolt.

Time yourself 

When people are nervous, they ramble. And since studies show that people struggle to know how long they’ve been speaking, it’s important to practice. Learn what it feels like to talk for 30 seconds or a minute. Early in a networking conversation, before you know it’s going well, try never to speak for longer than a minute at a time.

Let them do most of the talking

Don’t just ask questions, but ask open-ended questions. Rather than ask, “How long have you worked at _____ ?” ask “How did you become passionate about  [your line of work]?” Early on, strive for a 70/30 or 60/40 split for their speaking time versus yours.

Be more interesting

Easy, right? If you’re networking, you know you’re going to get variations of tried-and-true small talk questions like, “What have you been working on lately?” or “What’s new with you?” You can’t afford to wing these! If you give boring, canned answers to these “gimmes,” it isn’t going to make people want to go deeper. Practice giving answers that spark intrigue – or at least more in-depth questioning. Whatever y

If you’re nervous, it can cloud your energy. Use these tips to avoid being “that guy.


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