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Responding to annoying networkers

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in Career Management,Workplace Communication

What should you do when an overly aggressive networker won’t leave you alone? Use these tips to encourage the person to back off:

Set boundaries. Decide what you are willing and not willing to do. Do you meet strangers for “informational meetings” over coffee? Do you refer people you don’t know? Do you mentor people? If not, when people ask for those things, you can say, “Unfortunately, I don’t do that sort of thing, but I wish you the best of luck.” That’s the easiest way to prompt people to move on.

Don’t be afraid to be direct. If the person is asking you for something you aren’t opposed to, you can still set limitations on how much time you are willing to invest. For example, you might say, “I can schedule a 15-minute call with you on Wednesday, instead of meeting for lunch.”

Offer advice. If the person’s networking tactics are turning you off, provide a little guidance. Be honest, but tactful. For example, you might say, “I’d like to share some advice with you. I was interested in speaking to you, but after your fifth message this month, I decided against it. In my experience, I’ve found you have more success when you are less aggressive.”

— Adapted from “3 Ways to Handle a Terrible Networker Who Doesn’t Get How It Works,” April Starcadder, The Muse, www.themuse.com.

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