Adventures in Anti-Networking: 5 Ways to Repel Potential Connections

Sometimes even my colorful imagination can’t grasp this stuff. I’m talking about the odd, puzzling, and sometimes offensive things people do in the name of networking. Several such things happened to me since my last post, which (I know, I know) was several weeks ago. I swear these things really happen. Maybe they’ve happened to you.

Below are five highly effective anti-networking techniques that make me want to say a gracious, if not exasperated “no, thank you” to those who use them. (Hoping I’m not talking about you.)

You are guaranteed to repel me if you:

1.  Request to connect with me on LinkedIn when I’ve never met you in person, let alone enjoyed a conversation, cup of coffee, glass of wine, or meal with you. This is akin to the Allstate TV commercial where the bearded, beanie-clad goober says earnestly to the trussed-up, black-suited executive (whose car he’s just wrecked), “It’s like we’re connected.”  No. We’re not.

(Exception to this rule: Even if we’ve never met, I might follow you on Twitter if you are interesting and provide value or wit to the Twitterverse. It would also be helpful if you occasionally RT my tweets – that would rock, actually – and we have a few things in common.)

2.  Send me a rambling, form-letter follow-up email telling me how much you enjoyed meeting me at an event I never attended.  You’ve really put the nail in the connections coffin if you then proceed to sell me on your services.  (Honest. This just happened to me. And honestly, I wasn’t there.)

3. Verbally tackle me at a networking event after the hastiest of introductions to tell me how badly you want to network with me and be my friend because you only want to hang with people who inspire you.  This is flattering, but kinda creepy, all at once. And the creepy trumps the flattering part.

4.  Mar an otherwise lovely coffee exchange with phrases like, “So what do I need to do to seal the deal?”  Ummmm… exactly what “deal” are we talking about here?  I thought we were just having coffee and enjoying some good conversation. You know, getting to know each other.

5. Send me a salesly and impersonal DM after I’ve followed you on Twitter.  Enough said there.  And expect a hasty “unfollow”.

I’m sure you’ve experienced interesting exchanges like this where you weren’t completely comfortable, felt pressured, thought to yourself “WTH?”, and wondered what to do next to clear the air, relieve the uneasiness, or even flee graciously.

Well, I’ll tell you this: my mother, God rest her wise and wonderful soul, always advised me to act like a lady and be gracious to people whenever possible. However, I also know she had deep respect for manners and social boundaries. So I’m sure if I brought these events to her attention and asked her what she thought, she’d be similarly appalled and advise me to disengage at once.

What about you? Have you experienced any of these — or other – socially awkward circumstances? How do you handle them? What kind of impression do they leave you with? Can’t wait to hear what you think about this.

Want to ensure you become more purposeful, polished and productive as you build connections — and attract customers and referrals?  Contact me at patti[at]intentionalnetworker[dot]com to learn more about my Intentional Networker(tm) programs.   Check out my testimonials for more information.   And be sure to read my award-winning book The Intentional Networker(tm): Attracting Powerful Relationships, Referrals & Results in Business.  It’s your must-have field guide to avoiding networking faus pas.  Ask me about my new bulk discount pricing.


17 Responses to Adventures in Anti-Networking: 5 Ways to Repel Potential Connections
  1. Janki
    November 14, 2012 | 11:15 am

    Very good list indeed! My personal pet peeve is the Linked In request. I have a rule that our relationship must be strong enough that you’d take my call/meet me for coffee before we connect.
    I get a lot of this “spam” requests and sometimes, if we have multiple contacts in common I’ll email them saying that I’d be happy to connect once we meet. Interestingly, NOT ONE has ever taken me up on the offer.

    I’m not sure if they want to link with me because it raises their number, making them more “popular”.

    I also have a rule that if a person can’t bother to remember how to say my name correctly, that’s a no-go. I have an unusual name, but one that CAN be pronounced in the English language, so it’s just a matter of someone taking the time learn and pay attention. It’s those little details that say a lot about a person.

    Great post, as always…

    • pattid
      November 14, 2012 | 3:21 pm

      I so agree, Janki, and isn’t it funny that as soon as building a real relationship requires effort, many people don’t take the next step.

  2. Nishi
    November 14, 2012 | 11:42 am


    What an excellent entry! You made me laugh out loud as I have experienced each of these nasty networking no-nos.

    Thanks for the chuckle!

    • pattid
      November 14, 2012 | 3:20 pm

      Glad I made you laugh, Nishi! Here’s another one I just heard: Apparently a gentleman (I’m being kind) hangs out at a local coffee shop and watches for people to give his business card to – totally unsolicited. Then he asks for your card. Many are taken by surprise and his initial friendliness and fall for it. His next move is to send you an email “confirming” a coffee date that you never made. Wonder how many people have taken the bait? You just can’t make this stuff up! Anyway, this reminds me to tell everyone to read the book The Gift of Fear by Gavin DeBecker. It will help you understand that you can (and should) preserve your boundaries and not get caught up in this tacky and invasive behavior. It is not only annoying, but could be dangerous.

  3. Thea Wood
    November 14, 2012 | 11:58 am

    Great blog as always! I wonder how you handle #3 as far as exit strategies from this situation. Some people just don’t get the body language clues or even the closer “It was nice chatting, perhaps we’ll catch up at the next event.” They simply ignore it. Suggestions?

    Thank you,

    • pattid
      November 14, 2012 | 3:15 pm

      When someone has been that rude or in-your-face, you can assertively but graciously say, “Well, isn’t that lovely. Now if you’ll excuse me…” (I always wonder what someone on Downton Abbey or Upstairs, Downstairs would do.)

      • Thea Wood
        January 8, 2013 | 11:14 am

        Thank you. I’m keeping that in my back pocket. Happy New Year!

  4. Lorie Marrero
    November 14, 2012 | 12:05 pm

    I want to add this one to your list: Putting me on a newsletter list because I gave you my business card! Just because I give a person my card does NOT mean I want to be on a mailing list. That is NOT “opting in.” Big difference! Patti, I know you agree with this one! I will hit unsubscribe super fast… this is a practice I am actually seeing more, not less, of and it is making me not want to give out my cards.

    • pattid
      November 14, 2012 | 3:12 pm

      Oh, this one really gets me, too. And, everyone, you don’t have to give your business cards out – even if you are asked. It’s your information; you can stay in control of who gets it.

  5. Jeanne Guy
    November 14, 2012 | 12:11 pm

    Whew. Other than spilling wine on you at that last event, I think I’m off the hook here.
    By the way, so sorry to be missing your talk, “Becoming More Intentional in Your Work, Relationships & Life” at the Seton Cove Tuesday evening, Nov. 27th. Alas, we’ll be out of town. But I bet the Cove will bring you back for an encore and we’ll catch you then.

    • pattid
      November 14, 2012 | 3:11 pm

      What? I don’t remember that Jeanne. Maybe it’s because you are always so kind and gracious 99.9% of the time. [See even spilling wine on someone is a non-issue if you are an Intentional Networker(tm)!]

  6. Lisa Copeland
    November 14, 2012 | 1:59 pm

    I loved this so much I am tweeting it!

    • pattid
      November 14, 2012 | 3:10 pm

      Lisa, thank you!

  7. Brent Johnson
    November 14, 2012 | 4:31 pm

    Patti, this is great. I laughed out loud. The one that I deal with more is the auto DM when following someone on twitter. I have sometimes replied “This twitter account had detected a bot. I am sorry, I mistook your account for a real person. You will be infollowed”. Haha. Get to know me first. Or ask if I would be interested. I am not interested in “drive-by” salesmen.

    That sort of thing is demeaning and devaluing. Do they really think that works?? Thanks for the smiles and advise. Blessings to you and your family this thanksgiving.

    • pattid
      November 14, 2012 | 6:23 pm

      Brent! Thanks for your comment. Glad you laughed at these faux pas that certainly aren’t funny when you are in them, but sure are after the fact. I know in sales and marketing it’s all about leads and contacts, but why annoy thousands to capture the measly 1%?

  8. Julie Tereshchuk
    November 14, 2012 | 5:21 pm

    Talking about tweeting, how about: “creepy trumps flattering,” for a great tweet? Patti, and everyone who replied, really nailed it with this whole blog and thread. My personal peeve is the LinkedIn thing, with NO (apologies, I know I am shouting but it is my pet peeve) little note to accompany the request. I don’t know whether it is worse to get the blank request from someone you don’t know, or from someone you do know. Either way, I hit delete.

    • pattid
      November 14, 2012 | 6:22 pm

      Hi Julie! The LinkedIn is rampant, however Lorie’s comment about getting subscribed without the courtesy of being allowed to opt in is ridiculous as well. Just this afternoon I received about 5 newsletters from people I don’t even know — or just met ever so briefly. Glad you liked “creepy trumps flattering.”

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