By Jove, I've got it! I have figured out a solution to the Indefinite-Chat Syndrome (ICS)* which has been bugging me lately. Next time, I will tell the person: "Hey so how many people in the room do you know? I want to see if I manage to speak to every single one tonight, would you like to come with me to meet them"? This is perfect as it avoids the embarassment of walking away and leaving the person alone (as in "right, we have spoken enough, you are too boring, I am moving on"), and it shows a bit of a playful side with the "hey I know let's go and talk to every single person" while still creating a bit of camaraderie, like we are partners in crime for this little project.
Well I don't know about you but I find this to be a darn well honed strategy. Now I gotta go and try it out! There should be plenty of opportunities, I have stupidly volunteered to attend two (TWO) client events where I will need to network among people talking about my new job product which I know nothing about. Hmmmmmmm.
* for those who missed the previous episodes, ICS is the effect by which you get stuck speaking to the same person for ever in a social context. It takes some savoir-faire to move away from someone you have been engaged in a conversation, in order to speak to other people you don't necessarily know..