Sometimes, no matter what question you ask, you’ll be subjected to their full business pitch.
Client success? –> Full business pitch
Hobbies? –> Full business pitch
Other events they attend? –> Full business pitch
In fairness, many people are nervous while networking, so they naturally fall back on what they’ve carefully rehearsed – their business pitch.
They don’t realize that it’s irrelevant, it’s a turn off, and it wastes time.
It’s irrelevant because people won’t be interested in your pitch until they’ve gotten to know a little about you.
It’s a turn off because, well, any time you ignore a question and start talking about yourself – that’s a turn off.
And it wastes time because conversation is a two way street, and if you can’t get a word in edgewise, you’re not in a conversation.
So how do you keep people from dominating the conversation?
Be Not Polite
I participated in a fascinating exercise with one of my networking groups.
The facilitator started rambling and it was up to the other person to cut him off.
No one would do it.
Everyone politely waited for him to finish.
Except – he never finished. He never even took a breath.
It was funny in the exercise, but I see it all the time in networking.
The first step is to recognize that you don’t have to wait for them to finish.
You don’t have to be rude.
You do have to interrupt them.
A lot of people are uncomfortable doing this – and they end up frustrated because they’re wasting a lot of time at networking events.
The best way to interrupt someone who is rambling is to
Use their name
If you don’t know their name, glance at their name tag.
They’ll pause for a beat to look at you.
That’s your chance to
Redirect the Conversation
Here are three not rude phrases to shift the focus of the conversation:
“That’s great information. It was nice meeting you. I’m going to go meet some other people.”
“Thanks for sharing about your work. I was hoping we could hear more about Ayisha’s work now.”
“Thanks for the information about your business. I think the exercise we’re doing right now is to share information about our hobbies. Dylan, what do you like to do when you’re not working?”
Notice that the goal here is to shift the focus away from the person who’s dominating the conversation. If you give them an opening to speak again, they will continue their monologue!
This takes some practice, and I do encourage you to practice.
Most people are uncomfortable interrupting someone who is droning on.
When you use this skill, you’ll be a conversation hero!