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Young Money: How not to network

When you're out and about, it's not always the best time to run into co-workers or associates.

blog by Caitlin Campbell McNulty  • 

St. Patrick’s Day is my favorite holiday. I know that may seem odd. For me, St. Patrick’s Day is more than just drinking, partying and having fun. My husband and I even ignore Valentine’s Day and exchange St. Patrick’s Day presents instead.

St. Patrick’s Day is also the one day that I absolutely do not want to see anyone even remotely associated with my professional life. This is difficult, because—as it has been remarked so many times—Buffalo is such a small town in a big city.

Awhile ago, I wrote about networking in any situation, including social settings. But what about social situations where you do not want to network? How can be professional and politely walk away from a business contact in a social setting? The answer I’ve found (through trial and error): very carefully.

Here are some tips for extracting yourself from a potentially embarrassing situation. Keep in mind that true success with these tips comes from how gracefully and politely you handle your exit…

• Be courteous but short. Don’t get into any Darwinian debates about life and love and steer clear of open-ended questions. Say hello, introduce anyone you are with and move to the other side of the room (or out the door) as soon as it’s appropriate.

• Don’t get into any business-related discussions. If you keep it casual, they probably will too. Set the tone of the conversation and everyone involved should follow your lead.

• Remind yourself to keep it together. If you were lining up shots before you saw someone you knew professionally, maybe it’s time to sit this one out. Use your common sense –- there’s a reason your inner voice starts shouting sometimes.

• Remember, your acquaintance is there to be social themselves. They’re probably just as concerned about seeing you as you are about them. Keep it short and sweet and everyone will be happy.

If all else fails, hide. I don’t mean crawl under the table or bar and hide, but if you know you’re at point where you can’t do anything gracefully, walk away. Pretend as if you didn’t see your acquaintance and remove yourself from the location as quickly as possible. While this may be a little rude, walking away will save you from embarrassment and potentially damaging consequences on Monday morning.

Looking for tips on how to handle a specific office conundrum? Send your questions to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and I’ll do my best to help you navigate the workplace minefield.

Photo from Flickr / Toms Bauģis

TAGGED: caitlin campbell mcnulty, coworkers, embarrassment, networking, young money

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