Whether you’re at a conference or speaking to an HR representative, one of the worst things you can do is to bore them to tears. Whether you’re not interesting or their attention is drawn somewhere else, some people won’t be rude and walk away or tell you.
Instead, you’ll have to learn the cues that indicate you’ve overstayed your welcome. Leave your audience wanting more by walking away before you see these symptoms.
Body language cues
If someone is glancing at their watch or checking their phone, you might want to end the conversation. Other body language may be more subtle, but you should be aware of different signs.
They might tighten their body or point their feet away from you. Another cue is their eyes. Are their eyes wandering? Watch for what people don’t say as much as what they do.
Learn not to talk too much about yourself. It’s easy to ramble, once you get started, so you may need to retrain yourself to speak in 30 or 60 second intervals. Practice networking with your colleagues or friends.
Time yourself so that you learn what it feels like to speak for no more than a minute. Don’t let your conversation turn into a monologue until your partner is ready to go more in-depth.
Let your partner do the talking
People won’t get bored with you when they have the opportunity to talk about themselves. Instead of you doing the talking, give short answers to their question then ask an open-ended follow up question.
You should probably aim for a 75/25 percent airtime, with your networking confidant having the greater portion. Once you’ve built a bond, you can increase your own time.
*Try* being interesting
Small talk aside, you may need to move the conversation forward. Have answers ready for general questions. One thing you may be asked is “what have you been working on lately?” Make your answer interesting and open to further discussion.
Your project may be way over someone’s head, but it’s up to you to make it understandable if you intend to discuss it. If you can’t do this, find something interesting you have done.
It’s not what you know…
Networking is important to your career. As the saying goes, “it’s who you know.” Don’t risk a boring conversation, which might close the door to future connections. Know when it’s time to move on and let someone go.