how to tell a pushy networker to back off — Ask a Manager

how to tell a pushy networker to back off

A reader writes:

I’m increasingly finding myself in a place where newer professionals are asking to talk about getting started after school, or asking for advice. I always jump at the chance to help however I can and I’m universally flattered when anyone asks to meet with me.

I’m struggling, however, with one person who does not seem to know where the line is between helpful networking, and pestering. I met with him briefly months ago after he asked one of my employees if I’d be willing to chat with him. I was happy to do so. In the following months, he sent me a few emails updating me on what he was doing and that he was looking for more permanent work. Then he started to pop up at programming events I’d put together, and recently sent another unsolicited email asking if we could met again. I told him I’d have to get back to him when I was less busy. A week after that, he was at another event at which I was presenting. He cornered me, asking again to meet, saying he wanted to tell me what he was working on. Again, I told him I would have to be in touch because I couldn’t schedule anything on the spot. That was last Friday. I got another email today, asking again to meet.

I don’t want to discourage someone who is new to a small field that is hard to break in to, but I also really no longer want to meet with him. I get the feeling that he thinks this kind of persistence is how you find work, but I would never consider hiring him even if I did have an open position purely because he has been so intrusive. What is the best way to make it clear that he needs to back off, without being too harsh about it?

I answer this question — and three others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • My employee was left out of a team thank-you
  • Meetings that run over our scheduled time
  • Shouldn’t a recruiter be … recruiting me?

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