I don’t want to help horrible networkers

A reader writes:

I’ve been in my industry for eight years now. From the outside, it’s a very cool area to work in (and mostly it is…) and it’s definitely more on the map as a career path than it was when I started.

Lots of grads are very interested in a job like mine, but entry level roles are rare. I get lots of out-of-the-blue LinkedIn messages and emails asking for advice, and am always willing to grab a coffee with people to offer what little I know about breaking in and getting that first job because it’s hard, particularly if you don’t already have connections. Over email most are polite, but in person some are just AWFUL. Like a highlight reel of the messages you get about bad interns: entitled, rude, uninterested, no answers to why they like the industry or what they’re after…

I’m particularly struggling with what to do with one person. A friend connected us, I fit her in for a coffee. And she was just rude and dismissive — like talking to a grumpy younger sister who didn’t want to be there. I left thinking, did I accidentally email her asking to chat instead of the other way round? She then sent an email following up FOUR WEEKS later, which was just a request to further connect her with people wrapped in a pretty weak thank-you.

I’m not expecting bouquets of flowers in return or a poem about how awesome I am, and I don’t want to be a dick because first jobs are tricky. It’s tough and I know there’s some email etiquette to it that I’m sure she just doesn’t get, but I also don’t want to waste my limited brownie points with friends in the industry by connecting them to surly grads I don’t rate. How do I reply saying “SOZ, you were rude and I don’t want to help” without saying that? Do I offer feedback that might help in future or is that likely to cause drama?

It’s totally up to you! You have a bunch of different options here, and any of them are fine:

1. You can send back a bland, vague reply saying something like, “It was good to meet you too and I’ll let you know if anyone comes to mind who might make sense for you to connect with” — and then just leave it there. This is the easy, not-getting-involved brush-off. You really don’t owe more than that to someone who was rude while you were doing them a favor.

2. You can ignore the email entirely. That sends its own message. It’s not something I’d normally recommend, but when someone is rude to you the first time you do them a favor, you don’t owe them a response when they ask for a second one.

3. You can say no, and explain why. Sample language: “I want to be up-front with you that based on our meeting last month, I wouldn’t feel comfortable connecting you with my contacts. I took time out of my schedule as a favor to you and Jane, and I was surprised by how dismissive you seemed when we met. You didn’t seem like you were interested in being there! I realize you might not have been at your best for all sorts of reasons — we all have bad days — but I’m really careful about who I refer to my contacts. I mention this not to chastise you, but to explain that I can’t say yes to your request and because maybe it will be useful to hear. In any case, though, I know it can be a tough field to break into and I wish you all the best.”

4. You can also mention to the friend who connected you that the experience wasn’t a good one. Your friend would probably appreciate knowing what happened since she’s using her own capital by asking you (and maybe others) for this favor.

It might also be interesting to go back and look at whether there are early warning signs of rudeness that you should pay more attention to before investing time in meeting with people, or whether there’s more screening you can do before agreeing. For example, with the people who ended up being awful when you met, were there any signs of that in their emails beforehand — rudeness, entitlement to your time, etc.? And how much correspondence are you having before you agree to meet? If you’re saying yes to coffees before learning more about people, it might save you some time and aggravation to do some front-end screening. Often when you ask people to do just a little bit of work on their end (like “can you email me the sorts of questions that you’re most interested in talking about?”), some of them will disappear forever. The ones who come back with thoughtful questions that show they’re not expecting you to do all the work of drawing out of them what they want from this meeting are the ones it makes sense to meet with. And if you get an unpleasant vibe during this exchange, it’s okay to bow out, citing a busy schedule or so forth.

{ 163 comments… read them below }

  1. Detective Amy Santiago

    I think 2 & 4 is the right combination. I would certainly want to know if I set up something like this and it had a negative outcome.

    When I was working at a staffing agency a few years ago, someone applied that I’d worked with at ToxicOldJob. She was okay, but I knew she would not be right for the position my boss was filling and told my boss as much. Boss told her that she didn’t think she’d be a good fit for our internal position, but that she was willing to try and place her with a client. Applicant started harassing me on Facebook, wanting me to put in a good word for her and arguing why she would be good. I told her that was not the way to get someone to help her and blocked her.

    1. Fortitude Jones

      I was about to say the same thing – I would personally go with 2 & 4. I don’t respond to rude people when I was kind enough to take time out of my busy schedule to help them when there was nothing in it for me to begin with. I’d also want my friend to know to never recommend this person to anyone else she knows again because the ingrate would certainly make people side eye her own judgment for putting them in touch with the ingrate.

      Some people just have no common sense. If you’re trying to break into a notoriously difficult to break into field with no prior experience, you need all of the allies you can get. It’s not smart to be disengaged during an informational interview. I don’t really care what the new grad’s issues were – if they were sick, if they were going through a bad breakup, if they were hungover, whatever, they need to either reschedule for a better time or let me know upfront that they’re a little off their game due to X, but to please continue because they’re very interested in what I have to say. Otherwise, they would never hear from me again. Good luck to you, new grad.

    2. Mazzy

      No – number three definitely, I think the others can be twisted by the uninterested networker and have them spreading gossip that OP is the rude one who ignores emails

      1. LKW

        The only reason I don’t think #3 is an option is because as soon as you send that email …. you no longer control that. It can be twisted and manipulated to fit a particular narrative.

        I say #1 as vague as anything and #4 with specifics – verbally, not over email.

        Paranoia can be your friend.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch

        Who are they going to gossip to? This is a person clumsily trying to enter a competitive industry that the OP works within, they have networking issues anyways, I’d love them to try talking trash.

    3. Sleepytime Tea

      I would go with 3 & 4 personally, as well as conversing as a screening method more before agreeing to meet as Alison suggests. Some people are going through the motions with this whole networking idea, and honestly I know that I was totally clueless at the start of my career as to how it worked or what I should be doing. It would be a kindness to give feedback about how they came off, similar to feedback after a poor showing at an interview. Not required, but a kindness.

      One of the things I would ask people before agreeing to meet with them is what kind of questions they have so that I can be prepared for the meeting. If they don’t have any questions, that’s not a great sign, as it kind of indicates they’re a fish out of water. Then you can kind of say “how about you think about some things you’re curious about when it comes to this field and get back to me” or something like that. Then you can ensure that they at least put a little thought into it ahead of time. And if they take that negatively and/or never get back to you, then you know you’ve dodged a bullet.

    4. Akcipitrokulo

      I’d go for 1 &4 personally – a quick perfunctory note with bland good wishes avoids her going away thinking that you didn’t get email, or the reply was lost, and she might follow up again. It’s also just closing things off.

      I wouldn’t get into 3 though, personally.

      1. The New Wanderer

        Me too. #1 because it’s arguably better to respond and effectively close the conversation than to leave it unresolved.
        #4 to get a better take on the person, to see whether you just got a one-off bad impression or maybe your mutual friend doesn’t know them any better than you do and was just making a connection, and so letting them know your experience might be something for them to keep in mind.

        Not #3 because it leaves too much open for pushback from the networking person if they’re so inclined (or they’ll just dismiss what you wrote). Also one quick meeting isn’t enough grounds for providing any useful feedback in the first place – that’s more a role that a supervisor, advisor, or mentor should play, not someone who met for coffee one time. All the LW can really say is, “You came across rudely and dismissive of what I had to offer.” That’s useful info for the mutual friend, who either knows the person well enough to let them know, or doesn’t know the person well and now can reconsider trying to connect them with anyone else. But it’s not really actionable feedback for the recipient.

    5. cmcinnyc

      Very much agree. I have mishandled my fair share of informational interviews, just out of inexperience. When you’re starting out and don’t know much, it’s hard to prepare correctly. But those are the errors most of us make. With more experience, I look back and cringe at some of my clueless questions. People were very kind to me. But I was also very respectful and grateful to them. Clueless in ways I couldn’t help, yes. But rude? No.

  2. Amber T

    On the one hand, I don’t think people should need reminders to not be a dick when doing anything professional (or, really, interacting with anyone in general). On the other hand, is it possible that she could have thought she was acting “positively?” Instead of dismissive, was she trying to prove that she was knowledgeable of the industry? Was she trying to act confident and came across overbearing?

    None of this has to change whether or not you want to keep working with her (or anyone who acts like this). For me, this would only affect how much I would want to help them after – if they were awful because that’s just their personality, I would be inclined to ignore them or brush them off. But I was that eager beaver once who definitely rubbed people the wrong way because how I thought I was acting was not actually how I was projecting myself, and the hard conversations from people saying “hey, cool it down a bit, you’re acting like X” helped me.

    1. JokeyJules

      I agree with you 100% Amber
      When i finished my first internship (still in undergrad) my advisor gave me EXCELLENT feedback.
      He told me I come off as “cavalier”. He knew from working with me extensively for a few months that I was just trying to fend off imposter syndrome and use what I know to be helpful. Also, i WAS being a bit cavalier. But it was so, so important for me to know how i was being perceived by other professionals.
      That being said, I’ve also worked with other young professionals who are just dicks. It’s up to OP if they want to let this young woman know, but i’d try to keep those factors in mind as you make that call.

    2. Lily Rowan

      This sounds more like the experience I’ve had interviewing for an entry-level job, where people can’t answer the “why do you want this job?” question, or can’t answer it in a way that doesn’t make it sound like they only see it as a stepping-stone.

      1. hbc

        Yeah, I think in a lot of entry level positions, the honest answer for why the applicant wants this job is “I need a paycheck and this seems like one of the least odious options that I have a shot at” or “I answered one hundred posts and I’d take any of them, I really don’t care, I have no idea what I want to do with my life.” Learning how to spin that into something palatable is important.

        1. Lily Rowan

          Yeah, that’s right. I understand people need a job! But especially in back-office roles at mission-driven nonprofits, I really want them to say they think this role sounds interesting and/or important. I’m not looking for anything outrageous!

      2. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

        I actually think someone applying for an entry-level job would make a good impression if they acknowledge, respectfully, that they DO see a low level job as a stepping-stone and how it fits into their long-term career goals. As long as they aren’t rude about it, they at least show that they thought it through and did some research on the industry. Sometimes just acknowledging that they’re trying to get a foot in the door and gain experience is enough of a reason why.

    3. londonedit

      Yep, I agree. It’s possible she’s just awful and really didn’t want to be there, but it’s also possible that she was trying too hard to seem nonchalant, or someone had told her not to be too full-on and she took that advice a bit too far, or she was really nervous and it came across as arrogance/surliness.

      Totally the OP’s call to make, and they shouldn’t feel bad about not investing too much time in helping this person – they haven’t acted in a professional manner, after all – but I do think it might be kind to give them the benefit of the doubt and sending back a short note explaining why they didn’t come across as the most mature and professional of people, and why that means OP is hesitant to recommend them to anyone else.

      1. WinnaPig

        I wonder how it would go to just say that. “I am sensing that you are seeing this role as a stop-gap. Can you tell me more about your expectations about this position and how you would occupy it?”. It would give the person a chance to consider how they are approaching the conversation, and would put the factor leading to the information source’s hesitation to help on the table. Of course it would be a little uncomfortable, but so is a conversation dragging on.

    4. a1

      I don’t know. That could explain how she acted in the meet-up, but not why she waited 4 weeks to send a follow-up and have that be more of a request for me help wrapped in the guise of a thank you.

    5. Kiki

      Yeah, I would give some leeway for age/inexperience when considering rudeness/professionalism. Email etiquette is one of those things that is mostly learned through exposure and experience and isn’t covered by a lot of schools. I think all of us committed some email faux pas in our careers, especially when networking is involved. Attitude stuff as well. Similar to JokeyJules, I also was told I came across as cavalier. The truth was I cared, but was saying, “I don’t know,” a lot. Luckily, my supervisor realized that the issue was with my confidence/ not understanding that people were asking for my opinion, not a concrete answer.

      LW is not responsible for correcting the faux pas of every new grad who tries to network with them, but it could be a kindness for well-meaning people who are just missing the mark.

    6. Lilysparrow

      Sure, this could be possible. But I assume the people who had these hard conversations with you had some kind of relationship or connection with you?

      I don’t think the possibility of this being true is a good reason why OP needs to invest any further time or energy in total strangers who are rude and have already imposed on their time and goodwill.

      OP is not a free community therapist, an academic advisor, an intern coordinator, a career coach, or even a recruiter. OP is just a professional who already gave up a lunch or a coffee break to absorb their rudeness, and has better things to do than try to psychoanalyze these peoples deep inner reasons for being rude, nor throw good effort after bad trying to retrain them.

      If these young folks have the motivation to improve, then they will see their efforts are not working, and do the work themselves to figure out why, and how to fix it. That emotional labor is not OPs job.

  3. strike dev

    This sounds hauntingly familiar to the times when my family used to push me into networking with people just beca

    1. strike dev

      just because it was the thing that young professionals were supposed to do. Those poor actual professionals doing my parents a favor by putting up with me, a kid who very much so did not want to be there. I resented having to ask the questions and then getting pushed into writing a follow-up too– all insincere, all just trying to get my family to quit bothering me while I did my own actual job hunting elsewhere.

      1 or 2 would both have been excellent responses for that situation.

      1. Alienor

        I’ve been interviewing interns lately, and the difference between candidates who sought out the internship on their own and candidates who have a (usually high-ranking) parent or other relative at the company is massive. The first group can all explain why they want the position and what they’re hoping to learn, and the second group are pretty clearly there because they need an internship and mom/dad/uncle’s office seems as good as any other. I feel for them, but do I want to oversee them for 10 weeks? Not really.

    2. JokeyJules

      This for sure.
      The lack of enthusiasm makes me think some of these young people are demoralized by the daunting reality of the lack of entry-level positions, as well. After they’ve completed their likely expensive degrees.

      1. Clorinda

        Every transition when you go from being the top of one heap to the bottom of another is hard and demoralizing, and many people react to it by hanging on to the high status they used to have in the previous situation. The advantage of going from college to the work force is that you’ve faced this kind of thing before: elementary to middle school, middle school to college, one level to another of any kind of organized sport or performance activity. Perhaps it would be a kindness to tell the new grads/interns/job seekers that this is just more of the same.

        1. DerJungerLudendorff

          Job availability doesn’t really have anything to do with status though.

          As far as I read it, JokeyJules thought they were demoralized because they realized they spent a large amount of time and money investing in a career that probably has no room for them.
          Meaning their plans for the future are now in pieces, and they just wasted a ton of money and several years of their life for nothing.

      2. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

        I also think that a lot of graduates think that they’ll go straight into their Career of First Choice and then they’re done. It’s hard for some to adapt to the idea that they are forever going to be…well, students in a way…working toward new goals, learning new skills, trying to stay current with changes in an industry — there is always going to be a next step, there is no “Done. I’m there. I’ve made it.”

    3. nnn

      Yeah, when I was young I was getting tons of “you should network” pressure, but information about *how* to network wasn’t reaching me.

      And the fact that I had no idea what to actually say or do other than show up and look at the person expectantly wasn’t seen as a credible reason to go around bothering people by those who were pressuring me to network.

      1. Heidi

        Same here. It actually is important to network, but sometimes the people telling you to it forget that the most effective networking involves the promise of developing a mutually useful relationship. A complete newbie doesn’t have a lot of capital to play with, so the relationship can be lopsided, with the more senior person having to put forth more effort for less return.

        No reason to put up with openly rude behavior, though, OP. I’m sorry your generosity was repaid with such unpleasantness. I would be tempted to ignore the follow-up email, for no other reason than it would take a lot of effort to be tactful while getting the message across. But I would tell your friend that the person she referred was rude and did not seem interested in the field, just in case she was thinking of referring her to someone else.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          The thing is, though, lots of young people new to the workforce do this well, and people are happy to help them/network with them/etc. It’s not that they don’t have anything to offer in return; lots of people are happy to do this just to pay it forward. The problem is when they’re rude/disengaged/expect the person helping them to do all the work of drawing them out.

        2. Kira

          Being told to network when you really can’t bring much t0 the table is discouraging. Yes some of the people who let me stay in contact with them at the end of / right after college now have a good contact in me, but at the time I really did not have much to contribute to the conversation so it felt extremely extractive.

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            What you have to contribute early-career is enthusiasm, interest, and appreciation. People taking the time to have these conversations know that’s all you’re going to be able to offer, and that’s all they’re looking for in return.

            1. always in email jail

              Yes, yes, yes! I’m passionate about my field and I LOVE to hear that a recent graduate is interested in pursuing it, I get so excited! I genuinely want a new crop of eager, enthusiastic, bright people entering into the field. I want the positions I used to have to be filled by competent people who can carry on and improve the work that I did. New graduates have things to bring to the table, but I DO expect common decency in return.

            2. designbot

              and it’s hard to find good entry level people! You have something to contribute by making good on any contacts they give you and performing well. It’s true they can’t know that yet and are taking a chance, but that’s how you repay them, that’s what you can be bringing to the table.

            3. Akcipitrokulo

              Yes! I love my job and chatting about it to a younger version of me who is interested and engaged and I feel got something out of it? That’s great!

            4. My personally biased high standards

              Absolutely agree that entry-level/young/no formal experience folks may have a lot to offer, as others have stated. In addition, I love having the opportunity to train an apprentice/intern in what I see as best practices. I feel like I and the intern are doing the entire industry a favor by learning respectful, consistent, professional standards for my field.

            5. Jasnah

              It’s encouraging to hear so many people see enthusiasm and interest as valid things to bring to the table. As a young person job hunting, I felt so frustrated–how am I supposed to network when my peers are all stuck in the same boat as me? I don’t know anyone in any “fields” yet, and why would a stranger want to talk to me? So it’s nice to see that some people are still willing to do that for its own sake.

            6. Mel

              +1 for appreciation! Honestly, I love feeling smart and helpful. Having a nice chat with a student/new grad/less experienced person in my field who is happy to be there and get my advice feels really good. Plus I get to feel virtuous for paying forward all the help I got when I started working :)

          2. Rusty Shackelford

            At the very least, every single person should be able to bring some freakin’ manners.

      2. nnn

        *the fact that I had no idea what to say and do wasn’t seen as a credible reason NOT to go around bothering people

        (I hate when I typo my way to the opposite of what I want to say!)

      3. JohannaCabal

        Oh, I remember being told all the time as a new grad about this mysterious thing called “networking.” Plus, the class I took as part of my internship program featured a guest speaker who parroted that statement about how most jobs are not advertised (when I was laid off three years later in the Great Recession, this was also repeated ad nauseum by the unemployment office and career coaches I dealt with).

        Now, that I’m 15 years removed from job hunting as a new grad, I must say that I feel the over-emphasis on networking can be a detriment. I did network my way into my current role but–and this is key–only after five years of building up my career. The three jobs I had prior were all found by searching job ads and applying on company websites. At the time I felt like a failure for not “networking” my way into a role but I realize that building up my job history the way I did allowed me to “network” more strategically as I moved up.

        Looking back, I realize I treated networking like a magic ticket to a great job and overextended myself by blanketing folks in the industry I wanted to be in and attending too many networking events, often the wrong ones. Nowadays, I have cut back on many “network” events within my field and only really focus on one local association that my work pays for.

        1. Fortitude Jones

          I’m always amazed by people who say they received jobs by networking – I think I’ve only gotten one job out of the seven positions I’ve held post-grad due to networking, and that was an internal promotion at a company where I had been in a trainee program that saw me rotate throughout multiple business units before settling into a permanent role. All of my other positions were obtained via job board searches and lateral internal transfers. I went to networking events all last year trying to find a new job (and a man, but that’s another story), and I came up with squat. It was annoying, so I stopped going. I need to figure out how people do this successfully, lol.

          1. Rachel

            I think it’s the word “networking” that throws people off. Treat everyone—from interns to CEOs—respectfully. Be generous. Help others when they need it. Be good at your job, however insignificant it may seem. People will notice. And when they’re in positions of power, they’ll remember you. They’ll want to work with you again. Most jobs I’ve had were from recommendations of former coworkers, classmates, and friends of friends.

            1. always in email jail

              ^This. I didn’t get my job by “networking” in the sense of going to happy hours at conferences or joining clubs. I got it by always being responsive to my colleagues, sending something if I said I would, calling them to bounce ideas off of each other, being well-prepared for meetings that involve colleagues and putting my best foot forward, being someone people can count on for a prompt and thorough answer, etc.

            2. Fortitude Jones

              Oh, I’m always respectful in the workplace, and I’ve had many promotions/title bumps over the course of my career based on my work performance. What I can’t seem to figure out how to do is how to cultivate allies outside of my current and past employers. I’ve seen people say they met Person X at a networking event, and then the next thing you know, Person X has either submitted them for a job or forwarded along an advert encouraging them to apply and then giving the hiring manager a reference later. That’s something I have to work on going forward.

              1. Tom & Johnny

                Did X know them only from the networking event? Or did they know the person’s boss? Had they been introduced to them by someone they mutually respected? Did X hear about them from others, and not just from what the person had to say about themselves?

                People with the credibility in their fields to refer others into roles usually will not go to bat for someone they’ve never heard of except for what that person has to say about themselves. Typically they are acquaintances with someone’s former boss. Or a key customer or vendor contact from a prior role. Or someone who otherwise feels like they have a good reason to spend some of their own capital referring a person.

                Every industry is different but I feel like the story of meeting Person X at a networking event who doesn’t know me from jack, but who risks even a small part of their capital to refer me into a position, is a piece of mythology.

                And it’s a piece of mythology that does a disservice to people desperately trying to ‘network’ but being misled by the stories.

                1. Fortitude Jones

                  Yeah, I think that’s the trouble I’m running into – some of these stories I hear, the person telling it doesn’t say if Person X knew them before the event or knew their boss, mom, dog, etc. I guess I need to probe more when people tell me these things because I was becoming extremely frustrated last year that these miraculous connections weren’t just falling out of the sky for me, though I did meet my financial advisor and an interior decorator I’m going to be working with soon at one of these events, so it wasn’t a complete waste of time.

              2. nonymous

                I think there’s definitely an art to being able to quickly authenticate skills in a networking event. I have an acquaintance who has steadily job hopped in the last four years I’ve known him. He is super-outgoing (in a quiet and steadfast way) and my impression is that he is really really good at creating loyal social groups of drama-free earnest performers at work; and then at a conference the circles collide. So people from his social group at company A likely have a temperament that meshes with people from his social group at company B, that can kick-start the evaluation process because the two people know that they can work together, the question is where the technical skills fit in at each other’s workplace.

                Obviously there needs to be a skills match, but honestly I think that for most positions there’s a population of people that could get up to speed and execute well. A lot of companies are really focusing on finding a good fit of working styles (how does staff disagree? can they do so in a manner that isn’t perceived as a personal attack? etc.) within that population because work is incredibly team-based nowadays.

          2. Tom & Johnny

            What Rachel said. The most effective form of networking is being great at your job.

            Actions speak louder than words, as the cliche goes. And professionals do not refer or go to bat for other professionals they are not impressed by. But they will knock it out of the park for people they’ve worked with who they believe in.

            It can be as simple as tagging along to an industry event with a senior person in your job. After you’ve first impressed that senior person with your work. They will say great things about you, in front of you and while you’re not around. But you have to first give them a reason to say those things.

            It all sounds very kiss-assy, and it can be when it’s done wrong. When someone doesn’t have the work to stand on, they’re just kissing up. When they have solid work to stand on, it’s networking.

            1. Fortitude Jones

              I have no problems with things within my own industry – I guess the biggest cause of my problem in being able to successfully network the way I want to is that I’ve changed industries three times now in almost a decade of work. I love moving in and out of different fields as a writer, but everyone I know professionally wants to send me jobs or talk me up to people in industries I’ve already left and have no interest in returning to.

          3. Emily

            I haven’t “networked” my way into any competitive positions, but I have found a few job opportunities by knowing the right people. I got a summer job in college because one of my old teachers who worked for the organization posted on social media about how they needed to fill a few positions (and was able to make sure that when I did apply, my application went to the right people). I got an internship out of undergrad through my boyfriend’s aunt, who had a friend who wanted to start an internship program for his very small nonprofit. And it’s not 100% confirmed yet, but I may be doing an internship this fall that I only formally applied for recently, after I was basically asked if wanted to intern there (it’s at a national lab that has a good relationship with my graduate program).

            My boyfriend got his first job in our current city because my mom passed his resume along to someone she knew in the area who passed it along to someone who was actually looking for a person with his skillset. (In this case, it also seemed like the applicants to the posting were being filtered a little too aggressively before they got to the hiring manager, so he might not have even been in consideration for the position if he had applied through the regular channels.)

            Most of these just kind of happened as a result of having friends and family with the right connections at the right time, though, lol. I haven’t yet had to go to networking events or schedule one-on-one coffee dates with people in my field.

            1. TardyTardis

              On a very much lower level, I found a decent job simply by being chatty at the laundromat at the trailer court my husband and I were living in at the time. I knew it was going to be temporary (Uncle Sam said I was going to be moving in September), but it paid better than the patched-together two jobs I had at the time.

          4. Akcipitrokulo

            I’ve got one – and it was by chatting to a work friend from years ago about my possible move to her area. Everything else is by applying.

          5. Roja

            Up to this point (7 years post-college) every single job I’ve gotten has been from networking. Some fields are more networking-based than others.

            1. Fortitude Jones

              That’s true – it could be field specific and I’m just not targeting the right ones.

          6. Danger: GUMPTION AHEAD

            I have had two jobs happen because of my network. One was when Mr. Gumption got a job overseas and I hit up a friend from grad school who worked for a big international NGO to see if she knew someone working there (she did and they had an opening). The second one was this job. It was less traditional networking and more from being in the field in my area and being known as a reliable, skilled, easy-to-get-along-with person in my niche. It took 36 hours to go from application, to interview, to offer because the hiring manager knew of me.

          7. Cyrus

            Nepotism is a kind of networking, and we all know that works well for people, right? :)

            Seriously, getting my current position was a good example of networking, and not the “attending an event with networking in the title” kind of networking. My previous position was eliminated. Saying goodbye to my previous co-workers, one of them mentioned that her husband’s company was looking for someone with my job title. I applied through their Web site (or third party job board, I don’t even remember), but presumably the personal connection got my application flagged for the right person’s attention, and probably helped when the onboarding process turned out to be more problematic than either of us expected.

        2. Tom & Johnny

          Yes, exactly this.

          My current position and the last two jobs I’ve had all came from my network. I was referred into / brought into all of them. However, that only happened *after* six years of working my butt off, proving myself, taking whatever job I could find in my field through whatever recruiter would talk to me, and generally kicking ass and working long hours.

          It was grueling and I too thought this magical incantation called ‘networking’ was for the birds. Or for special people who lived in a rarefied realm. Until suddenly one day the script flipped and people I had worked with began striving to stay in touch with me as a valuable contact, began to refer me, began to use me as a reference for themselves, and began to ask my advice.

          Honestly, six years is a remarkably short period of time to have that happen, looking back. But when I was in the middle of not being a valuable or useful contact to anyone, it felt never ending and I felt invisible. So it came as a refreshing shock when I woke up one day and apparently had street cred in my industry.

          You are exactly right when you say, “I did network my way into my current role but–and this is key–only after five years of building up my career. The three jobs I had prior were all found by searching job ads and applying on company websites. At the time I felt like a failure for not “networking” my way into a role but I realize that building up my job history the way I did allowed me to “network” more strategically as I moved up.”

        3. LadyByTheLake

          Also, and this is key — you might not hear about the job from your network, but you will get it because of your network. So when I am looking for a job and I see a posting for XYZ Company, I can immediately think about who I know at XYZ Company and call them for information because we are pals, and if in the course of that conversation, they ask me for my resume so they can walk it to the hiring manager, all the better! Same if I don’t know someone who works for XYZ Company directly, I usually know someone who works externally with that company and do the same thing. It’s all about connections.

  4. Cordoba

    I try to approach situations like this from the POV of “what would I have wanted somebody to do it I were that inexperienced person trying to network in a new industry and getting it wrong?”

    My answer to that question is “I would want somebody to clue me in on whatever bad thing I’m doing”.

    So I try to give people who are trying to get into my field the benefit of the doubt and let them know when they’re using the wrong approach, violating common norms, or asking questions that betray a fundamental misunderstanding of the technology.

    It only takes 10 minutes to put this in an email, and generally the responses I’ve gotten have been very appreciative and in some cases have led to staying in contact and providing help to folks who turned out to be good eggs.

    And if (as sometimes happens) they react poorly and email me back an angry screed, well, so what? I’m comfortable with my position and reputation in this industry, so it doesn’t actually mean anything if an unrealistic newcomer gets bent out of shape over some constructive criticism. Delete, block, move on.

    There’s no obligation for the OP to give people this sort of feedback, but it’s a kind thing to do if their schedule and position etc all allow for it.

    1. Bagpuss

      I think that is a really thoughtful way to deal with it.

      I don’t get a lot of situations where it comes up but I do tend to give peopl the benefit of the doubt and think that if they are not doing this intentionally then it’s helpful to let them know, and if they don’t like it, it is unlikely to have much impact on you.

      I did write to the guy whose *mother* wrote to me asking for a job for him . (I also send the mother a one-line response saying we only accept applications from the applicant themself) To him, I wrote on the basis that I assumed that he wasn’t aware that his mother was doing this and would want to know, ( I suspect he did know, but it seemed kinder not to say so) and also flagged up some other less egregious issues with the application which woud have meant he would have got no-where even if it had been his own application.

      I also agonised over whether to say anything to a summer work-shadow student we had, about her CV (resume) – which was poorly written and seriously undersold her skills etc. I felt embarassed about bringing it up as she hadn’t asked for any advice, but decided that if it were me, I would have wanted to know, so I had the conversation with her last thing before she left one day. She didn’t say much at the time but came to find me the nest day to say thank you, so I was glad that I had taken the plunge.

    2. Jedi Librarian

      I’m in this position now. I still have a year of undergrad left but I’m trying to make some connections so I can get a job in my field. If I do something wrong or whatever, I would appreciate knowing now rather than later. I can’t do anything to fix it if I genuinely don’t know. Especially if I did something that was seen as rude or would take me out of the running for a job, or whatever. (Though I would like to think I’m a nice person generally :P)

      Though yes, I do agree OP isn’t required to say anything.

    3. Washi

      This is really hard to pull off, but I think if someone is being rude/clueless at a networking meeting like this where you are clearly the one doing them a favor, you can say something in the moment. Like if they clearly think you should be taking the lead and giving them pearls of wisdom, you can say something like “I’ve found that the best way to use this time is for me to focus on answering your questions. So what are some things you’ve been wondering about?” Or if someone is being surly, “I’m getting the sense that this isn’t meeting your expectations. Can you tell me what you were hoping to get out of this meeting?”

      Basic formula is “I’m noticing X behavior” + “what’s up with that” + genuinely curious tone.

  5. Bagpuss

    I think in this instance, because a friend connected you, it would be a kindness to your friend to let her know how this person behved. Both becuase her behaviour could reflect on your friend, and whether she is percieved as trustworthy / having good judgment by people she is using her professional capital to connect to, but also because she may be in a better position to get through to the candidate about her beahviour.

    I think you are also then fine to either give her the brush off, ignore her request or explain why you won’t be able to help. I personally am leaning a bit to telling her why you won’t help, but it is not your responsibility to teach people professional behaviour (unless of course they are your trainee or direct report!)

  6. Countess Boochie Flagrante

    One thing you might consider doing is reaching out to the friend first, to see what they have to say about it. If this was abnormal behavior for the person they referred, that could be a go-ahead to send a message providing advice on how to behave better, but if they don’t give you an indication that it’s abnormal, then you might skip it on the grounds of not wanting to spend much emotional energy on someone who is unlikely to see their behavior as a problem.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      The other benefit of reaching out to the friend is that the friend may be able to convey the message in #3 without OP having to follow up with the person that friend referred.

      If I referred someone who behaved the way OP describes, I would want to know. I’m not going to leverage goodwill for someone who either is legitimately rude, or who needs coaching/feedback before they go into future networking opportunities. I’m happy to work with someone who needs coaching, but that coaching has to happen before I ask my friends/colleagues to take time out to speak to that person.

      1. A Frayed Knot

        Another consideration when reaching out the to the mutual friend is protecting your own reputation. The person OP talked with may likely provide their own version of the meeting to the mutual friend – you want to be sure that the mutual friend understands how you perceived the conversation and why your response will be [whatever response you choose]. My, that sounds paranoid when typed out, but my reputation is important to me!

  7. Lynca

    Alison brought up “pre-screening” and I have used that before with really good results. I’ve had professors from University asking me to meet with students for the last couple of years. I generally have them email me the major questions they want to ask before I schedule anything. It also allows me to get together what I want to say since I don’t give the best responses on my feet.

    About 50% of the time I never hear back from them. The rest range from trying to get an internship with me (which we don’t even offer!) to really having some thoughtful questions about what I do. The people looking for an internship generally don’t want to meet after I tell them it’s not something we can offer them where I work.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      Agreed. Pre-screening really does help separate folks who are genuinely interested from folks who are not willing to follow through on an opportunity. I’ve also had folks who fail to respond to pre-screening and then pop back up months later, and I’m always willing to meet up with them at that point.

    2. Antilles

      I’m of the opinion that any time someone cold-contacts you out of the blue, you should do pre-screen them.
      Partly to avoid wasting time, since it removes all the useless meetings – people who can’t be bothered to contact you back and people who are looking for something you really can’t do.
      Second, it really focuses the meeting down to details. Rather than the person showing with a couple vague questions about “teapot engineering”, it forces them to really think in advance about what they’re trying to learn. And then when I get the list of questions, I can think in advance about stuff to provide the best advice I can. If they’re just unfamiliar with the industry and trying to decide if it’s for them, that’s a completely different conversation than if they’re already somewhat interested and are trying to figure out what skills to develop.

      1. FD

        Sometimes it also screens out people who are confused about what you do (because job titles are often ambiguous or obtuse to outsiders).

        For instance, a person might reach out to a property manager because they want to learn more about how to get their first management job (e.g. directly supervising other people, which is something that many property managers do NOT do). I’ve had something similar happen, and a quick pre-screening question would have saved everyone some time.

    3. FD

      I agree. I’ll do the same thing–I’m more than happy to meet with people, but if they aren’t able to come up with some questions in advance it’ll probably be a waste of everyone’s time.

  8. Elitist Semicolon

    This, so hard! I can’t decide whether it’s worse to put that much time into helping someone and then be met with rudeness and/or a lack of thanks or to be the person who made the suggestion only to find out later that the interaction didn’t go well. Both have happened to me – I think the second actually feels worse, because then I’ve wasted not only my own time but someone else’s. It’s never easy to find out that someone you’ve referred in good faith turned out to be a clod, but it is tremendously helpful to know (if only so everyone can avoid working with that person in the future!).

  9. ENFP in Texas

    I’d go with approach #1 here.

    It took her FOUR WEEKS to send a follow up, so it’s evidently not that important to her.

      1. Washi

        I cut strangers slack mainly upon request. If someone says “sorry if I seem a little off, my cat just died” or “I’m really nervous about this meeting, but am so grateful for you taking the time” etc I will happily give them the benefit of the doubt if things are a little weird. But if someone is rude, I’m not going to think up possible explanations on their behalf and do them favors anyway.

        1. ENFP in Texas

          This. The lack of response on top of the original rudeness and disinterest displayed at the meeting means I wouldn’t go out of my way to do them any more favors.

      2. Lilysparrow

        Then she needs to go to the doctor and get help, because her anxiety is causing self-sabotaging behavior.

        Stopping her from self-sabotaging isn’t going to help her anxiety issues.

      3. Turtle Candle

        Or she could be doing it to appease a friend or family member, or she was stoned on cold medicine, or really rude, or her dog just died, or she had had a nervous breakdown, or just hit her head, or she had a frustrating talk with her advisor, or thought she was playing hard to get, or was bored and not a talented enough actress to not show it, or maybe she was a secret agent and the meeting was a ruse to get her in a coffee shop with her fellow agent so she could transmit the secret code via morse code eyeblinks.

        I mean, I get it. I have anxiety too. If–IF–that is the case, then I sympathize, and sincerely hope this young woman gets help. If; we have no idea.

        But we are all of us human, and all of us only capable of assessing things we can actually perceive. And given that we only have limited time, energy, and social/professional capital to spend on things, sometimes we have to make assessments based on what we are capable of knowing in a very short time. Does that suck sometimes? Yeah. But it’s the nature of the beast. If we get caught up in ‘but maybes’ about everything, none of us could do anything.

  10. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

    OP, I’m also a fan of the “pregnant pause” in returning an email, which may be a variation on Alison’s suggestion #2. So you respond with something like the script in #1, but you wait a week to send it.

    I’ve also done #3, but usually only via phone call or in person. I have a hard time striking the right tone if it’s over email.

    1. Dragoning

      Does a “pregnant pause” via email actually work? I tend to assume the other person was too busy too get back to until then, which doesn’t bother me and I think nothing of it. Or else they were out of the office on vacation or something.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        In my limited, anecdotal experience, it’s been effective. I suspect there’s two things that make this work (at least for me): 1. I’m in a field where you’re expected to respond to emails within 1 business day, assuming you’re not in court or a mediation; and 2. Most “horrible networkers” I’ve met so far are current students or new grads, who also seem to expect a 24-hour response period. I’m sure it would be less effective for folks with more post-grad work experience.

  11. hbc

    I think you’d be doing everyone a favor by having a small set of questions that you send out before agreeing to meet up–what draws you to this industry, what is your nearest experience, what do you hope to get out of the conversation, etc.. Basically, the openings to what you’d talk about in person. This will probably cause some people to vanish when they realize you’re not doing all the work for them, as Alison says, others will prove that they have already given this some thought, and still others will probably realize they haven’t done enough thinking and will take some time to explore their motivations.

    1. LKW

      I like this idea very much, especially “what do you hope to get out of the conversation” – you can eliminate those who are looking for a job you don’t have or are so clueless that they haven’t given it any thought and respond as such. Or at least push back and tell them that you’d like to use the time wisely and they can try you again once they’ve put some thought behind their request.

    2. Washi

      Yeah, I’ve had good luck with asking people to send me questions ahead of time, partly so I can think about it, and partly because it cues the other person to think about what they are trying to get out of the conversation instead of just checking a nebulous networking box.

  12. LaDeeDa

    Ugg the worst. I would probably do a combination — let the friend know, ignore the email, and then if the person emails again, give them some honest feedback.
    Most of the people who ask to meet with me I have met in person at either an industry event or at a speaking engagement. A few times I have had people ask me to meet with a friend of theirs or a child who is interested in my line of work, for those I try to pre-screen with an email and a 15 min phone call. I ask them what they know about my industry, why they are interested in it, and what if they are in school what they are currently studying. If they don’t know anything about my industry and can’t tell me why they are interested in, and not studying anything even remotely related, I let them know I am probably not the best person to meet with to explore career options.

  13. nnn

    If you’re in a field where the new grads are coming to you from a specific university/college program and you have contacts with people in that department at your local schools, you could mention to your contacts that new grads seem to be getting a lot of pressure from somewhere to go through the motions of networking, but don’t seem to know how to go about it politely, what they should come prepared with, etc.

  14. The Man, Becky Lynch

    Dang, I’m probably a bit too brutal because if someone is rude and dismissive of me, I’ll just cut the meeting short. Just like if you’re on a date and someone is being a jerk, it’s time to duck out early. Then I dare you to email me four weeks later asking me for anything else. I don’t let people hold me hostage though when they show their butts and act poorly.

    It sounds like a lot of people are just assuming you’re going to do all the leg work and “Sell them” on the industry, like you’re some kind of recruiter and not just a person who is doing them a huge favor. You’re nice for not just lighting these people up and wanting to continue to be nice! I would just ignore them if I had to choose since it’s probably better than the verbal smackdown they’re going to get as feedback.

    1. Moray

      I think you’re right on with people like this expecting recruiting and not networking. They want this to directly benefit them, not inform.

      I would at the very least hit time-out. “Let’s pause–I want to ask why you seem so dismissive and disinterested? If you don’t feel like this is going to be a productive meeting, let’s cut it short.”

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch

        Ah yes, I like that approach as well.

        I’m the nicest person until I’m over it, then I’m just like “See you never, suckaaaaaa!”, I try to find the middle ground but I usually need an adult to pull me back in like that. I’m like a puppy, we wrestle around and we’re having a good old time and then you get nipped when you pull my tail.

    2. Fortitude Jones

      I’m probably a bit too brutal because if someone is rude and dismissive of me, I’ll just cut the meeting short.

      I do the exact same thing. My time is valuable – I do not have to continue entertaining someone who acts like they have something better to do. I say, “Best of luck,” and keep it moving.

    3. Ask a Manager Post author

      Yep, me too. Something like, “I may have misunderstood — I’d thought you were looking for ___. If that’s not the case, I’m likely not the right person for you to meet with. Should we wrap up?”

    4. Narise

      When I was in high school a friend’s dad would network back when it wasn’t as common and the internet was still new. He loved to meet with college students and give them the benefit of his experience. He would review resume’s if asked and put in a good word with people if warranted. However if they acted like jerks he would let them drive the conversation, knowing that they wouldn’t get as much out of it, all while ordering expensive drinks on the menu. At the end of the meeting the bill was either paid by him if he thought it was productive or paid by prospect if they had wasted his time. It was shocking for a few when the bill went to them and he told them it was common for them to buy. And no I don’t know what happened if they didn’t have money with them or refused to pay.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch

        I feel like your friend’s dad is a kindred spirit. This is hilariously just slightly evil because in my background, he’s not wrong. If I invite you somewhere, I buy the drinks/food, it was my idea.

        I learned from equally as kind successful people coming up the ranks, they were incredible unless you tried to BS a BSer or showed them disrespect/attitude and wasted their time. They weren’t quite that delightfully devilish but they were where I learned to say “You know what, we’re done here, bye.” when the time was right.

      2. Less Bread More Taxes

        The whole buying drinks thing is super odd I have to say. Sounds like he was on some kind of power trip. If you’re doing something other than splitting the bill or treating the other person, you need to make that clear up front. College students, rude or not, should not be buying *professionals* drinks when they’re not expecting to. As a college student, I’d be livid and wouldn’t have hesitated to go back to my professors explaining how sleazy that is.

    5. MJ

      Agree with the recruiter part. The ‘networker’ was expecting a job out of it (job, not career). Left the follow-up for 4 weeks because they weren’t interested in the first place but perhaps had pressure to ‘follow up about that job you interviewed for’ from external parties.

      I think a brief response along the lines of #3 would suffice.

      “After our chat, I realise I can’t help you any further with this. All the best in whatever career you choose.”

    6. pcake

      I’m with you on this. I’m surprised how many people in other responses want to be nice and give rude, entitled brats the benefit of the doubt. You’re doing them a favor by meeting with them. If they’ve never been taught how to at least pretend to be interested, engaged and courteous when someone is doing them a favor, they’ll learn faster if they’re treated in this meeting exactly the way they’d be treated in real life. And the person doing them the favor won’t be trapped in the coffee meeting from hell.

      1. Shanshan

        We’re giving them the benefit of the doubt because being young and stupid isn’t always a character flaw. It’s easy to be rude when you’re still learning what polite looks like.

  15. OrigCassandra

    I wonder if this is a field where the entry-level credentials are still shaking themselves out (e.g. cybersecurity). In some situations, would-be hirees absolutely must schmooze their way into their first job. Some credentials (e.g. the CISSP, which is one of the crown-jewels in the field — definitely NOT an entry-level credential, despite being one of the most commonly cited in the field) can’t be earned without demonstrated on-the-job experience.

    If this is the case, would-be hirees may be taking out their frustration at what sure can seem like a rigged system (you can’t get a job without the credential, but you can’t get the credential until you’ve held a job?!) on OP. This is Not Good, of course! But “are you pursuing a credential?” might be something to ask about in the type of prescreening suggested by Alison and commenters Lynca and PCBH above.

    1. Entry Level Marcus

      I bet this is what’s going on. A few years ago I was considering breaking into an industry where you pretty much need connections to get a good entry-level job. All the advice I got was very vague stuff about “networking” and “informational interviews”. Initially, as a naive grad, I did think that informational interviews were essentially unofficial recruiting conversations, and so it was frustrating to feel like these conversations never led anywhere. I personally was never rude about it, because I recognized the person I was talking to was doing me a favor in talking to me (and I’m compulsively nice), but I can see why other people might let that frustration turn into curtness or rudeness.

    2. Polymer Phil

      I definitely had this attitude during my first job search – “I did my part by working hard and earning the degree, why won’t you jerks hold up your end of the deal and let me into your private club?” Seeing people who might potentially help my job hunt as a bunch of cool kids excluding the uncool kids probably didn’t help my cause!

      I also completely misunderstood what networking was about – I had the impression that it meant having a dad who belongs to the same country club, or is an alumnus of the same fraternity or private prep school, as the hiring manager. That’s probably not too far from the truth in some cases, but my best networking contacts are people I’ve done business with as suppliers, customers, or coworkers. A new grad is pretty much limited to the “someone my dad knows” or “someone I shook hands with at some industry event” kind of connections, which are of limited use.

      1. OrigCassandra

        Don’t forget your educators!

        I teach in a graduate professional program. I have a very large network in the professions I educate for, and I use it on behalf of my students with some frequency. (Politely and ethically, of course.)

        Not all educators have my kind of network (it took me a lot of years and work to put together), but those who do can really help new grads.

    3. always in email jail

      I’m in a field sort of similar to this, where even the credentialing process is being worked out (and the only available credential that is respected requires 5 years of direct, documented experience). So I expect people to ask:
      -When you’re hiring, what kind of training do you want candidates to have already had? Any advice on where I can get it?
      -What should I share about past work experience that you would find valuable?
      -How did you get your first job in the field?
      -What salary range should I expect when I first start out in the field?
      etc.

      1. MayLou

        My (new!) field is a bit like this – it’s been around for a long time but it became a regulated profession about seven years ago and the certification requires a year of on the job experience before you can start the course. I was really fortunate that when I applied for a role where the certification was a preferred requirement, they saw potential based on my experience in a different field and decided to hire me as a trainee (a role that wasn’t even vacant, but a qualified internal applicant wanted part time hours so they used the remainder of the budget to hire me). In a larger organisation I’m not sure it would have happened, nor if the specific project were less niche – that’s where the overlap with my previous field came in handy.

  16. Cathie

    I have met people on the spectrum who were not intentionally rude or dismissive, but were just somewhat difficult to talk to, because they didn’t pick up on social cues (and it was a learning experience for me to realize the extent to which conversations with strangers can depend on implicit, unstated social conventions)
    So I wondered when I read this whether there might be a chance that she is on the spectrum?
    But whether or not this is an explanation of her behaviour, I think it would likely do her a favour in the long run if you let her know how she came across in this meeting (#3).

    1. LKW

      Not going to get into any discussion about being on a neuro-spectrum as that would be against site rules – however, I’m going to go on a hunch and say that neurotypicality has little to do with waiting a month to write a thank you note (wrapped around a request for an additional favor).

      1. Aspie AF

        I agree, as a person on said spectrum. The networker didn’t seem to have any delays in meeting in the first place…

      2. Amber

        But having an anxiety disorder absolutely would lead to this behaviour. Im sure people I tried to network with early in my career thought I was rude or uninterested, when the truth was i was terrified of thier judgement and failure and was probably on the floor in a fetal position agonizing about the thank you note I hadn’t sent yet.

        Thank god I lucked into finding a decent psychiatrist.

        1. Rude Pravo

          But having an anxiety disorder absolutely would lead to this behaviour.

          Then step up to the plate and get treatment for your anxiety disorder.

          1. Eleanor Shellstrop

            This seems unfairly harsh. Having an anxiety disorder can be crippling and getting access to help can be difficult, not to mention financial restraints if you’re not somewhere with healthcare.
            This also assumes that the person knows they have an anxiety disorder, a lot of people just think their anxiety is normal.

            1. Spider

              The onus is on the person (Person A) looking for a job to present themselves professionally, not on the person already with the job (spending their time and effort to do Person A a favor) to be lenient on Person A for not presenting themselves professionally.

              And Person B is not Person A’s therapist or doctor. It’s neither their responsibility nor their place to help Person A manage their problems that are impeding Person A from behaving professionally in a networking scenario.

              1. Amber

                But this is the stuff that holds back women and minorities. And people who come from other backgrounds. Sometimes people need an advocate. Im on a mission to encourage talented yet insecure young people realize thier potential. And sometimes that means giving them the benefit of the doubt.

                Honestly im appalled by the reactions to this post.

                1. Spider

                  We’re talking about someone who “was just rude and dismissive — like talking to a grumpy younger sister who didn’t want to be there.”

                  Not a woman who was professional and attentive, not a minority who was professional and attentive, not anybody else with any combination of any mental or physical impairments who was professional and attentive.

                  Why is it the OP’s responsibility to give this rude and dismissive person any number of passes to explain and excuse away their rude and dismissive behavior?

                  It’s not like she emailed the OP right after the meeting and said, “Sorry I may have left a bad impression, I’m dealing with [XYZ problem] right now.”

                2. Amber

                  @Spider I’m not disagreeing with Allison’s advice, or telling the OP she needs to *do* anything differently. I’m saying there are a number of explanations other than Rude. I think it is helpful to keep that in mind when encountering this kind of behavior, to minimize frustration, and give the person an opening if they circle back around later.

          2. Amber

            WOW. That is incredibly unkind. also not how this stuff works at all. I knew needed help, but did not have the financial resources to get it. And i didn’t know how bad it was until i was on the correct meds.

    2. PersephoneUnderground

      The rest of the context makes this less important for the letter itself (active rudeness and only following up after four weeks when they wanted something), but neurotypical or not some people’s facial expressions do come across as surly or sullen when they’re nervous. My sister apparently gives cops that impression when pulled over even though she is always polite and respectful in her actual words and is simply nervous (no racial component here with cops example, btw, she’s a white woman in the US).

      Just a useful thing to keep in mind- when people are out of their element or nervous their body language or face might read as hostility because the reactions can be similar on the surface (closed posture, short answers to questions, appearing to not want to be there, for example). So benefit of the doubt on apparent surliness is warranted if the person appears to otherwise be trying.

    3. Lilysparrow

      Here’s the thing – I am not neurotypical. I struggled to fit in with social norms and with anxiety.

      Rudeness, like other boundary issues, is not about intent. It’s about the behavior and its impact on other people. If OP finds these folks to be rude, they don’t get a pass for having positive intentions or low skills or various kinds of issues.

      They were rude to OP. They don’t get to further expect OP to fix them and teach them how t to stop being rude.

      If someone has a neuological or mental-health issue that renders them incapable of normal professional courtesy, they don’t need to be diagnosed by an unqualified stranger they met once for coffee. And they are not going to be capable of performing as a good employee in a professional environment unless they get the proper help they need. Giving them “the benefit of the doubt” just wastes everyone’s time and energy to no good purpose.

      1. Jasnah

        Totally agree. Deciding whether someone was rude or not is not a judgment of their character as Good Person or Bad Person, or determining that it was their “fault” or they had an “excuse” for acting that way. “Rudeness” is entirely about how others perceive you. If someone says “you’re being rude” you don’t get to say “no I’m not”–that’s not up to you!

    1. Cordoba

      I don’t agree, as it’s worded very casually and kindly.

      Even if it was worded so as to be chastising and condescending it is still also potentially useful information.

      If I were trying to break into a new field I’d definitely be willing to accept some considerable degree of crabbiness/criticism/whatever if that was the price of obtaining feedback from more experienced people that I could then use to modify my approach and increase my chances of success.

      If i’m doing something wrong the last thing I’d want people to do is to not tell me about it our of concern for sparing my feelings, especially if these are people who I have explicitly asked to help me get into their field.

      Maybe the most helpful thing they can do is say “You wore the wrong thing to that networking lunch we had”. In that case, great, as now I know something important that I didn’t know yesterday.

    2. FD

      I’d disagree. In fact, I’d say that this is the most generous one, even though it would sting to hear.

      This behavior WILL hurt the person as they try to break into their field. It already has hurt this person, because based on their behavior, the LW is unlikely to connect them with any openings.

      While it’s possible the person didn’t want to have the meeting at all (e.g. their parents made them), it’s much more likely that they are coming off differently than they intend. The LW has no obligation to give them feedback at all–but giving feedback gives them a chance to realize they’re coming off wrong and correct it in the future.

      All the other options don’t actually give the person any information that might improve their chances in the future.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch

      So what? They deserve to be chastised if they have wasted someone’s time and treated them poorly, only to turn around and ask for feedback on their discussion.

      It’s a wake-up call of sorts, that you’re doing it wrong and this may stunt your chances of ever getting a job in the field with that attitude. I’ve seen a lot of grads go unhired for various reasons, a lot of it is because of how they handle themselves and it’s better than just letting them struggle and wonder why they’re never getting where they want to be.

      1. Lilysparrow

        Yup.

        And it is properly both “condescending” and patronizing in their original sense – which did not mean snobbish or haughty. The OP is actually, realistically, at a superior level of achievement and experience, and would be meeting the candidate on their level to communicate what they need to know – descending to come alongside them = condescend. Acting as a patron = patronizing.

        If the new grad finds it offensive, it’s because they’re arrogant and have an inflated sense of their own importance and knowledge.

    4. SheLooksFamiliar

      Geneva, #3 is neither. One doesn’t need to be bruta, but sometimes people need to hear how they are coming across – especially if they are new to networking. I am forever grateful to a lady I ‘networked’ with almost 40 years ago. In reality, I was a recent grad and wanted to dazzle her so she’d hire me. I was ‘confident’ to the point of brash, dismissive of questions about how I would do such-and-such…you get the idea. But this lady very kindly said she wanted to give me some advice since I had asked for the meeting. Her script was similar to Alison’s and, sure, I was deflated but, Geneva, I needed some deflating!

      Sometimes we need to know we not only missed the mark, we didn’t even come close to hitting it.

  17. PersephoneUnderground

    It’s so funny – as someone currently job seeking it’s so easy to obsess. I swear I had a moment of worry that this would be about me or someone like me, since I recently had a coffee meeting with someone I tracked down on LinkedIn through mutual contacts. But I behaved professionally (maybe even too enthusiastic / deferential) and definitely didn’t act rude or wait four weeks to email a thank you. But it’s sooo hard to tell sometimes if you’re doing this right.

    I have read the other posts on this topic, but it’s so awkward for me, mostly because this meeting was a mix of information about the industry sector and a small hope I might get a referral for a job out of it. I really don’t want to cross that line of “pretending to want an informational meeting while actually angling for a job”, but sometimes it’s kinda both. I want to know about the company because I applied/want to apply there to future positions, and so want to know if it’s somewhere I’d like to work, and finding out more about the industry segment they’re in was especially useful too since I’m starting out in a new field. I mostly stuck strictly to informational interview type questions, but felt that I should also at least mention my more specific interest, so I gave him a copy of my resume and ended up making a foot-in-mouth jokey comment along the lines of “I might apply for the internship I saw posted since it sounds like a great place to work from what you’ve been saying – obviously I’m not asking you for a job, I mean, not like you could just hand me one anyway, that’s not how things work…” *facepalm* At least this was in the context of him having been in my shoes networking like this before, knowing it can be hard. The rest of the conversation went really well, since I had good prepared questions about the company and the field etc., so I think he’ll probably forgive my moment of weirdness. But agh! Why did I say that?!

    In my written back and forth with him I think I’ve been almost excessively careful about not appearing mercenary, but also you are supposed to do things like ask about other contacts etc. and attach your resume, so I did those things in my thank you note. I know others probably struggle with this, too.

    TL;DR – Any suggestions how you smoothly combine the “I genuinely want to learn about the industry/company and whether I’d do well in that environment” with the “also I am actively job searching so if you want to pass along my resume, maybe even to the hiring manager for this job at your company, that would be great” messages? Sometimes, in fact a lot of the time, a networking meeting is for some mix of those purposes rather than purely one or the other. I don’t want to ever come across like the networker described in the letter!

    1. LaDeeDa

      LOL! I am sure he has already forgotten about it, it is your brain that won’t ever let you forget! That will be one of those awkward things that will wake you up in the middle of the night for years, with your brain going “remember when you said THAT! Ha dork.” My brain betrayed me like that the other night, it woke me up at 2:00 AM with something I said in 1998.

      Before meeting with someone do your homework, there is no excuse for not knowing everything publically available about the company and industry. If you go in with the attitude of “I have researched, but what is it really like?” That is a good step in the right direction.
      I think asking people questions about their career path helps you see how a person got to where they are, which may help you in your pathing. They may tell you about a way in you never thought of. For example it may be easier to get an entry-level position on the teapot social media team, than on the teapot design team.
      Your goal should be to make a connection with the person and learn from them when that isn’t the goal, then everyone is aware.
      I will be honest, the most I have ever done for someone I met as you described, is I have emailed them to say there is a job posting for something they may be interested in on such and such website. If I know someone there, I might send an email and say “I met this person for a mentoring session, not sure if they are what you are looking for, but you might take a look at their resume.” And I would only do that if they were exceptional. I am not going to put my reputation on the line for anyone, especially if I have never worked with them.
      I also might invite them to an industry event if I have an extra ticket or it is a free event.
      After the meeting, I would email a thank you, at the end of the email say “Please find attached my resume for reference.” and attach your resume.
      If your industry/field of work has a professional organization- join it, attend lunch and learn and networking events- the people are a captive audience for you, and during those events, they almost have a guest speaker. You also might check MeetUp, sometimes there will be networking groups for your specific industry in your area- they often have a lot of out of work people (ha!) but you never know, and they may bring in professionals to present on topics of interest.
      Good luck!

      1. PersephoneUnderground

        Thanks – especially for the laugh! “…woke me up at 2:00 AM with something I said in 1998.” *Dies, then feels better*

        Luckily I do know most of the basics (6 years in the working world), but I’m switching fields so it’s starting all over and it’s not like I practiced networking while I was employed (learning better now, oops, it’s apparently supposed to be an ongoing process, which makes sense). I have had people who forwarded my resume that I’ve never even met, but I’m in a hot field so that helps. I definitely don’t expect that, so worry a ton about coming off as if I do! I definitely thank them profusely and come prepared :)

        1. writelhd

          I loved that as well, woke me up at 2:00am with something I said in 1998.

          I think the most helpful thing I ever asked someone who was willing to talk to me was “so tell me how you ended up where you are?” I usually got a lot of really honest, interesting and unexpected responses, because most people’s career paths are pretty random and twisting, at least in my industry and my city, and though I didn’t use any of those responses to get a job, it really did help put my job search into perspective and understand the different background people might bring to something and how others have used those backgrounds to inform what they do. And I think it’s the kind of question that people like to answer earnestly.

    2. quirkypants

      For me, I think it’s important that the person I’m meeting with is really honest about why they’re meeting with me. If someone really wants to learn about the industry, that’s cool. If someone wants to learn about how I broke into the industry, that’s cool.

      My biggest pet peeve are the people who quote the above as the reason they want to talk to me when all they really want is for me to refer them to my network or wonder if I have a job for them.

      If you really only want the latter, just be honest. I may still meet up with them and at the very least I may send them a job posting or think of them when someone asks me, “Hey, do you know anyone …?”

      If you truly want both, my best advice is to come asking really intelligent questions, show that you’ve already done your research and you’re building on it, asking for other perspectives, or want to know something specific to my experiences (i.e. “I also started out in the same completely unrelated field you did! What helped you make the change?” or “I’m really interested in how you applied XYZ skill in this niche industry, what do you think is important to keep in mind if someone wants to do the same thing?”) All of this makes it clear you’re not only there to get my referrals/access to my network but it has the added benefit of making you look good because you do research, are enthusiastic, asked intelligent questions, etc.

      This is totally an aside, but one question I would encourage people to ask is about starting salaries in the industry or salaries based on their experience – assuming you’re not trying to get a job out of ME personally, I think this is something that will help most new grads/career switchers. It can really help people understand what they should be saying when asked salary expectations once they get their foot in the door!

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch

      There is always going to be some awkwardness because you’re strangers! However most people who agree to meet with you are generally kindhearted people who want to help out if they can. So they’re ready for the weird quirkiness that comes out of the meeting.

      I don’t think that your slip up was that over the top, it was a typical kind of foot in mouth and then remove it as quickly as possible moment. That’s endearing and just being human, especially as someone who is so green.

      A lot of times a set up like this is going to lead to sharing a resume anyways, since it shows the person who’s talking to you what you’re working with and if they have any advice in how to spin your current resume to fit the industry/positions you’re discussing. Most know that it’s not an underhanded way to try to talk their way into a job, since most of the time, you’re right, nobody is going to hand you a job. Most people don’t even have the authority or ability to pass your resume to someone with the power.

      So this is why honesty and giving as much information up front is important! Ask them if they’d mind looking at your resume and helping you there, let them know that whereas you’d love a job at their company, you know it’s not the way hiring is done. That you’re just looking to become knowledgeable about what the company is looking for in terms of skill set and experience levels, which kind of entry level job would lead you to where you want to be, etc.

      Be thoughtful and respectful, which is what you should like you’re doing. So you are not the problem here and I hope that eases your nerves a bit!

  18. recent grad

    As a recent grad, like 99% of the things I read here in comments and letters is people having less than zero patience with new or recent grads, and not thinking at all why they might be acting like they are. When you’re a uni student, you get SO MUCH conflicting information about how professionals want you to act – be confident! don’t be confident! be in constant contact! dont email them too much! don’t ask too may questions! ask lots of questions! – that I’m surprised MORE professionals don’t get weird interactions with grads who are trying to do all the weird things they get told to do.

    If you honestly want to stop being harrassed by graduates who have no idea what they’re doing (i.e. all of them) you’d do something to make it more transparent to get into your industry (therefore helping more disadvantaged people from diverse backgrounds who don’t have the time or money or connections to network), like working to establish a structure placement program with applications, or hiring interns, or holding open networking days for graduates, or organising a visit or talk with a nearby university.

    1. agnes

      Here are a few suggestions. Be authentic and curious. Listen more. Express gratitude for their time. And use some emotional intelligence–read the non verbal cues and adjust your approach accordingly.

    2. Fortitude Jones

      Your second paragraph is a good idea, but the onus on establishing these recruitment initiatives isn’t on the letter writer or others in her position – her company should be doing stuff like this. People working regular non-HR jobs in companies that are being asked for informational interviews are not required to act as a recruitment specialist – that’s not their job. So understanding that, new grads need to be grateful and appreciative of the time they’re being given for these informational interviews and actually show up with some questions.

    3. FD

      Sure, it is frustrating, and no one expects new grads to be perfect!

      But the problem is that when you ask a person to do you a favor, it’s generally smart to come off as appreciative of that favor. That means doing some of the basics, like coming prepared with questions, trying to engage with the person, and thanking them for their time.

      I definitely know the frustration. But this person isn’t unwilling to talk to or help out a new grad. She just is reluctant to give further help to a person when she tried to help them by doing this meeting, and they didn’t really seem to appreciate it or seem inclined to take proper advantage of the opportunity.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch

      I think you’ve missed all the comments about how we also don’t like hiring recent grads either, so the idea that there would be more transparent and easier to navigate is a nice one to say the least.

    5. PersephoneUnderground

      I totally relate – I had no clue what I was supposed to be doing when I started networking as a new grad. I had nice conversations but didn’t know I was missing the boat on the real usefulness of the exercise.

      My main advice- research beforehand! Read their LinkedIn profile, find articles about industry trends, look up the size and age of the company the person works at (size can be a huge factor in what it’s like to work somewhere) and read Alison’s articles about networking and researching companies. Then prepare some questions beforehand that show you actually did a bit of research, like asking why they switched fields themselves if their job history says they did, asking what they think about the trend you read about, etc. Also questions about company culture, work style, and what they wished they knew when they were starting out are always good. Take notes (either during the meeting or after for yourself, so you can actually remember the information you covered in a few weeks) and send a follow-up thank you email. Also ask about who else they’d recommend you should talk to.

    6. LaDeeDa

      You are exactly right, and as a new grad, I would be actively seeking the companies who do all the things you described in your second paragraph. I do know that is more common in STEM fields than in other fields. My company does all those things we have a 1-year new grad program to help them on board into the corporate world, 120 interns just started today in this location, and we hold several development and networking events for them throughout their summer.
      I think for a new grad networking is about learning overall business norms and etiquette more than scoring a job or internship. I would look for networking opportunities through your university, through MeetUp, through your local chamber of commerce, if your desired profession has a professional org, attend some events they host.

    7. Lilysparrow

      Or OP could cut down on being harassed by not agreeing to have coffee with strangers who think their desire to enter the industry entitles them to make up extra jobs for you to do on their behalf (like absorb rudeness without backlash or restructure the industry to smooth their path to their dream job).

      Or OP could do something more widely helpful, like write to a popular career blogger, so that new grads who are confused can get an inside look at how their behavior appears to others and do some self-examination.

      Especially new grads who use very strange convoluted logic that sounds suspiciously similar to the arguments of people who creep on women at work or catcall them in the street. “If you really didn’t want to be harassed, you wouldn’t be so hard to talk to.” “But I have to act this way, how else am I supposed to meet anybody?” “It’s not my fault, I don’t know what you want or how I’m supposed to act. I don’t have bad intentions, I’m just clueless.”

      Professional courtesy isn’t that different from ordinary human courtesy: Be on your best manners when meeting new people, a bit more formal than you would be with people you’re already friends with.

      Understand when you’re asking someone to do you a favor. Be selective about who you ask. Make sure there’s something in it for them (even if it’s just a free cup of coffee).

      If you initiate a conversation with someone, then don’t expect them to do all the work. Have something to say or something specific to ask or talk about. Smile and look them in the face. Make the conversation pleasant and a positive experience for them.

      Be grateful that they did you a favor. Say thank you in person and write them a thank-you note. Absolutely don’t ask them for more favors until after you have thanked them, and they offer to keep in touch or ask how they can help.

      This isn’t a magic formula to get a job offer from every networking conversation. But it will keep you from being “that person” in an advice column who was surly, rude, and ungrateful.

  19. Happy Pineapple

    OP, you probably don’t hear it enough, so I want to say thank you for being willing to talk to people who are interested in breaking into the industry. It’s a fairly selfless and thankless task to be willing to do any sort of mentorship or informational interviews for complete strangers, but it is so important and helpful to young grads (even if they don’t know how to acknowledge that).

    I did my Bachelors and Masters in a fairly niche field where entry level jobs are few and far between and competition is fierce. I applied to literally hundreds of positions over several years and never managed to get my foot in the door. It was incredibly demoralizing, but the one thing that kept me from becoming completely demoralized were the few professionals who were willing to take time out of their day to speak with me and give advice and encouragement. I’ve had to shelve my dream career for now for the sake of practicality, but mentors like you gave me a small glimmer of hope that it’s possible to break in!

  20. agnes

    I’m becoming more and more inclined to call it like I see it. If one person wakes up and realizes that they need to improve their professional networking skills because of it, then I have helped someone. If they don’t. well then it’s on them.

  21. Where’s My Coffee?

    When I get hit up with these, I always take the tactic of asking them to email me a few questions or topics they’d like to cover. As Alison says, many disappear and for the remainder, it helps focus the meeting. I also ask them what appeals to them about the field, as entry-level applicants often have very mistaken ideas about what a given profession entails.

  22. Not A Manager

    If she was acting like a grumpy younger sister who didn’t want to be there, maybe it would be a kindness to mention it at the time. “Hey, you seem like you’re not really into this coffee. Did someone pressure you to come?”

    I think that gives someone a kind way to recoup, or to change the course of the conversation. If they really ARE interested, and they say so, then you can actually steer them into what counts as a “good” networking coffee.

    On the other hand, maybe they’re not interested and their mom or their professor pushed them into this particular meeting. Maybe someone told them to use a splatter paint approach. In that case, you can actually take a few minutes to give them some general advice about job searches and how to network effectively (if you want to and which they will probably benefit from hearing). Then you can cut the coffee short, which your guest will probably appreciate.

  23. drpuma

    OP, if your company works with particular recruiters or a particular firm, it may be helpful to have that info ready to pass on to folks who are simply job seeking. That way you can feel better about being somewhat responsive, but the effort you have to put out is greatly reduced. I think this could be a very effective follow-up depending on the response you get to the simple screening questions some other commenters have suggested.

  24. always in email jail

    I could have written this.
    I have found that doing exactly as Alison suggested, and asking them to send a list of questions ahead of time, screens out a lot of folks. I phrase it as wanting to make sure I’m the best person to answer their questions, but it’s really to see if they actually have any or if they have just been told that getting a coffee with someone was a good idea. Once, it was actually the case that I WASN’T the best person to answer their questions based on their career goals, and I was able to refer them to a great colleague of mine who had experience doing exactly what they dreamed of doing, so it was a win-win!

  25. KingdomScrolls

    First off, OP, I think it’s very nice of you to give so much time and effort into supporting people trying to break into your industry. It’s a shame so many of them have turned out to be duds!

    I personally like a combination of #1 & #4: #1 because it’s polite and non-commital, #4 because if I were your friend, I would definitely appreciate knowing that you weren’t impressed, and why. Who knows, maybe your friend was on the fence about connecting you, but did it in an effort to be helpful. In which case, it would probably be to their advantage to know what kind of impression their connections are making. Otherwise, they might blithely continue recommending this non-starter to all and sundry, doing themselves and their career no good in the process.

    I’ve got to say I’m surprised (and irritated on your behalf) how many people you’ve encountered who are so disengaged on meeting. Are you sure you’re not a ghost, OP? Who drifts, clad in white, into a coffee shop, and is then puzzled by the lack of engagement from your coffee partner? Or perhaps you’re 7ft 6″, dressed in forbidding, be-sigiled robes, and speak in naturally growly tones? On a less silly note, is your industry one where inexperienced people might have an unrealistic idea of what’s involved? For example, you mentioned it was (mostly) cool, and difficult to break into at an entry level. I wonder if some of these people have a rather glamourous, idealised picture of a starting job in their minds, and when you talk about the day-to-day drudge work that may well be involved, they zone out?

    Not that that is an excuse on their parts, of course. You’ve taken time out of your day to meet and encourage them, and they should value that (and show it). Even if they discover they were off-base in their expectations, they should still wecome the chance to learn things from you. I’m just trying to think of reasons why they might seem so disinterested.

  26. AAM fanaaaatic

    I get a lot of (often generic) requests to connect with friends’ younger siblings, former interns, etc. and one thing I’ve started doing that’s really helpful is responding to the initial email and asking them for more info, before I commit to setting up a time (especially in person). I’ve held a number of vaguely connected roles, any of which could be its own career path, so this also helps me get a sense of what they are hoping to get out of our meeting. For example:

    Hi So and So,

    Thanks so much for reaching out. I’d be happy to connect and share my experience in the Teapot Industry. Before we chat, can you share more specifics about what would be valuable for us to cover? For example, are you more interested in Teapot Prototyping, Teapot Design, Teapot Operations…or looking to speak more broadly about (these types of roles in my industry)?

    I’d be free to connect by phone or email at any of these times (XYZ). Looking forward to it.

  27. writelhd

    I’m in a niche field that’s highly coveted and not well understood from the outside too, I definitely made some entry level networking mistakes and I owe my success totally to luck and tenacity, and though I didn’t get a job out of any informational interviews I did learn a lot about the right kind of attitude and helpful ways to think about job searching from the kind people who were willing to share me with just how they got where they were, and I’m still grateful to them for that. So I do think about that when I get these kinds of requests.

    The rudeness doesn’t just come from clueless new grads, though. I recently had an email request that referenced several other industry people that I knew whom he said he had already spoken to and whom he claimed had told him to reach out to me, but he wasn’t a new grad, it was a “I’m new to this town and I want to break into your industry” kind of situation. What turned me off was that although he made an attempt to frame the kinds of questions he would ask, which is normally a good sign, his attempt made it clear that he hadn’t done the barest bit of research into what I did to see that it didn’t relate at all to what he said he wanted to do, something the people who’d “referred” me would definitely have known. And the tone was just pushy enough that I had some reservations and debated how to respond, and during that delay he sent a follow up email that was quite pushy and put off that I hadn’t responded yet, so that gut feeling to just say nothing at all got even louder and I did not respond. I still feel a little concerned that was rude of me, but it felt like Engaging Was a Trap.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch

      Informational interviews and networking is a professional courtesy, if the requester cannot approach you respectfully and kindly, there is nothing rude about ignoring them.

      It’s another lesson in following your gut instinct as well! You shouldn’t let yourself go into icky murky waters that concern you when your alarm bells are going off. You did the right thing!

  28. Hedgehug

    She’s already been described as a rude, dismissive, bratty little sister. #3 would surely just invite her to be defensive and argue back and suck you into an email fight. I would go with #1 and #4

  29. Lexi Kate

    It seems like lately I have either had good meetings with new grads or the stuff that make my friends cringe at the future of our society at lunch. I would use 1 & 4, if you go with 3 I would suggest that you do that by phone or in person I would not want the return from that being documented if you are reading this blog you can already see that everyone has an opinion and even the crazy ones have followers. I also want to add that depending on the level of dismissiveness/rudeness during the meeting I would suggest ending the meeting early and and telling the person “It’s clear that you are not interested in this meeting, and I don’t want to waste my time so let me know if at some point you are interested and we can see about picking this up then”. The first time I did was when my grad had me wait until she finished her words with friends game before she would speak to me, and then had me hold on while she accepted a call from her boyfriend on speakerphone that included the phrase “I’m not doing anything”. At some level you need a point to stop the meeting and let the person know for you it is unacceptable behavior.

    1. The New Wanderer

      Wow, in that situation I think I would have left it as, “Excuse me, I’ll be going now.” No hint of any help in the future – someone that rude or oblivious isn’t going to be helped once they realize it means you aren’t handing them the job of their choice.

  30. Clementine

    I don’t consider myself an extrovert. But for all but one of my roles in the past 12+ years, who I knew has been extremely important. However, don’t network from the standpoint of trying to get something from others. Here are some other ways to network:
    * Volunteer for your local professional group.
    * When you see a position suitable for a fellow professional, let them know.
    * Go to meetups, including ones peripheral to your actual job. Learn what you can and see how you can be helpful to others.
    * Go to whatever conferences you can, even if your job doesn’t pay for it.
    * Apply to speak at conferences (this will help with the previous point).
    * Write articles for your professional group’s publications.
    * Connect on LinkedIn, and “like” people’s new jobs, comment appropriately on their posts, and so on.

    As mentioned, be great at your job. Take initiative. And as much as this site discourages it, being friends with your co-workers helps them want to bring you over to roles at their new company after they leave.
    I’m happy to chat with anyone in my field, or interested in joining my field, but I have also encountered some rude and clueless would-be networkers.

  31. LizardOfOdds

    OP, I totally hear you on this! I usually carve out time to meet with people once per week, whether it’s a quick call or coffee meeting. I figure hey, I drink coffee anyway and I always learn something new when I talk to people, so why not?

    A few weeks ago, I also met with someone who was dismissive and rude. She asked me to meet up and give her advice, then spent the entire hour telling me how important and great she is. She asked a couple of weak questions but seemed very bored by my answers, then interrupted me to tell me that she actually knew the answer and was just making sure she was right. I left thinking, good lord! Why did I waste my time?! I haven’t had the energy to say yes to anyone since then. This woman just sucked the good juju right out of me.

    By the way, I ignored her when she followed up. And I don’t feel bad about it!

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