Thou Shall Not Stalk

Networking is how things get done in this world, and if you want to get ahead, you have to know how to cultivate relationships with people who are in a position to help you.  Meeting such individuals is often a brazen act – you walk up to someone at a conference and introduce yourself, you send an e-mail to a stranger asking for an informational interview, or you invite a long-admired potential mentor to lunch.

But like everything else, networking taken to an extreme can be dangerous, and lately I’ve been hearing horror stories about people who just can’t put on the brakes when it comes to their networking activities.  The worst phenomenon is something I call stalker networking, and this is where you meet a contact and then proceed to nag that person incessantly for the next several weeks or months.

A friend of mine approached me recently with this dilemma.  He had generously granted a half-hour informational interview to a recent college grad, and she latched onto him like mold on cheese, constantly e-mailing him and calling his work AND cell phones to inquire about job opportunities.  This went on for a really long time until my friend was so frustrated he was looking for any excuse just to get rid of her.

It’s better to do no networking at all than to be perceived by a potentially valuable contact as a nuisance.  I urge you to remember that contacts are busy, and are balancing the needs of a whole lot of people who are higher up on the priority list than you.  Be respectful of their time, and don’t expect them to bend over backwards to help you until you’ve established a rapport and they know they can trust you.

Tagged as best practices, , , networking, relationships.

Alexandra Levit

Alexandra Levit’s goal is to help people find meaningful jobs - quickly and simply - and to succeed beyond measure once they get there. A former nationally syndicated columnist for the Wall Street Journal and a current contributor for Fortune and Metro US, Alexandra has authored several books, including the bestselling They Don't Teach Corporate in College, How'd You Score That Gig?, Success for Hire, MillennialTweet, and New Job, New You. Her book on the top myths of business success is due out from Penguin/Berkley in the fall of 2011. Since serving as a member of Business Roundtable's Springboard Project, which advised the Obama administration on current workplace issues, Alexandra produced the critically acclaimed JobSTART 101 (, a free online course that better prepares college students and graduates for the challenges of the workplace. She is a frequent national media spokesperson and has been featured in thousands of outlets including the New York Times, USA Today, National Public Radio, ABC News, Fox News, CNBC, the Associated Press, Glamour, and Cosmopolitan. In 2010, she was named Money Magazine's Online Career Expert of the Year and the author of one of Forbes' best websites for women. Known as one of the premiere spokespeople of her generation, Alexandra regularly speaks at conferences, universities, and corporations around the world including the American Society for Training and Development, Campbell's Soup, McDonalds, and Whirlpool — on issues facing modern employees such as how to communicate effectively between generations.

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