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Network overload

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Pattie Hunt Sinacole gives advice on how to respond to networking requests

Ask the Job Doc.

Q: I just landed a great job, in part because I made a bigger effort to network with my friends and family. I started my job about 2 weeks ago. I get a lot of requests to meet other people for coffee, lunch, etc. to network. I don’t have lunch very often or I have lunch with my new colleagues. I can’t really go out for coffee during the day. At the end of the day, I have to pick up my son at a certain time from his daycare. I feel bad to say it now, but I can’t meet all of these people. It becomes a problem. I rely heavily on commissions and many of my leads are in California, so I often need to be available after hours in Boston. What are your thoughts?

A. I completely understand! I frequently receive requests from near and far. It seems like your world and my world have similarities. Time is money and time is precious. However, I believe in giving back, so I try to accommodate reasonable requests. It also seems like networking helped you land your current job. Others may want to learn from you, including what worked and what was a waste of time.

Here are some tips I used:

1. Allow a short amount of time on the phone, maybe 15 minutes or so. If your schedule allows it, try connecting with others over the phone or through a video call.

2. Connect with them on Linkedin. Explain that your current role is demanding but that you would be happy to connect on LinkedIn.

3. I typically spend 1-2 hours on networking requests each week. A lot of times people get mad because I can’t work their schedules. My availability for networking requests is often at 7:30 a.m. before the start of my work day. Some job seekers are frustrated with the time I have. In rare cases, I offer an early Saturday morning or Sunday evening call, but like you, I’d rather spend that time recharging my batteries and spending time with my family and friends.

One way to respond is, “I just started my new job in April. I like it very much but it takes long hours and I also have a long commute. I’d be happy to talk to you on the phone on my drive home next Thursday, but that’s probably the best I can do right now.


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