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  • Awkward Networker

Why You Should Never Irish Exit

St. Patty’s Day Weekend!

Time to dig-out those “Take me Drunk I’m Home” t-shirts, Amazon Prime a few reserve packs of shamrock face stickers, and queue-up Dropkick Murphys on your Spotify.  Because, lads and lasses, it’s time for Irish potatoes, Irish whiskey, and of course… a well-timed Irish exit.

Here’s a quick live look at every bar corner around the globe:

We all know Irish exits are acceptable at a crowded bar with drunk friends who probably won’t remember you were there in the first place.  Even Buzzfeed has a list of 14 reasons why you should Irish Exit (man, they’ll make a list of just about anything, won’t they?).

So what’s your technique? Maybe you step outside to take a phantom phone call before running home to catch another episode of Sneaky Pete.  Maybe you do the bathroom runaway?  The duck and ditch?  The storm out?  The fake break-up?  They’re all gold.

But what about networking functions?  Do you find yourself Irish exiting at networking events?  If so, try this technique instead:

You know that feeling?  You’ve worked the room a little bit.  There are plenty more people you should meet, but the last three people you met have tried to sell you something and external demands are rattling around in your mind like bingo balls.

How do you gracefully leave without undermining your purpose for attending?  My technique sounds obvious, but feels unnatural.  Put simply… I don’t leave.

I say “goodbye.”

Say goodbye and reengage with people you’ve met throughout the night (however trivial your initial conversation).

The benefits are two-fold:

A farewell salutation invokes a feeling of intimacy

“Why me? The door is right there. He could have easily left, just like all the others I’ve met this evening. Why did he seek me out to say goodbye?”

All too often we watch business cards yellow from the sun on our desks – a withering reminder of a friendship un-nurtured.  Your attempt to prevent that indifference starts with your additional farewell, and to-date this technique has borne some of my most lasting friendships.  Right after saying goodbye, don’t be surprised if this individual pulls you back into a conversation, hoping to return the same appreciation and connection.

Don’t forget – your conversation exit strategy is already baked-into the “goodbye”.  That’s the beauty of this technique!  You opened this conversation with a declaration of departure.  So, after the relationship has strengthened, restate that you “really should get going”, and your escape artistry is complete.

This individual will  likely introduce you to the people in his/her conversation at the time of your approach.

For all of you who wonder “how do I enter a conservation without rudely interrupting?” allow me to introduce your silver bullet: the goodbye.

You can interject any conversation circle to bid farewell to one of its members. It’s a custom that’s transcended generations and social norms of all types.  A proper farewell will always prevail over whatever “here’s why I’m so much cooler than other people” conversation likely bubbling throughout that particular circle.  So don’t be surprised if your farewell immediately turns into an introduction to one or more members in the circle as a much-needed topic change.

I’ll often begin saying goodbye having only met three people, then finally walk out the door having met a dozen people or even invited into a few friend cliques.

After your farewell tour, you’ll find yourself leaving anywhere from 5-45 minutes later than you initially endeavored.  If it’s 5, then yeah, these were probably not the right people for you tonight.  Validate your parking, grab a cannoli for the road, and come back next time with a more strategic plan.

If it’s 45, then congratulations! You just turned a frightful flee into a fruitful farewell.

Oh and in case my intro didn’t plant this song in your head already:

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