I don’t want to help rude networkers — Ask a Manager

I don’t want to help rude 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 I know about breaking in because it’s hard, particularly if you don’t already have connections. Over email most are polite, but in-person some are just awful: 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 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 or a poem about how awesome I am, and I don’t want to be a jerk because first jobs are tricky. It’s tough and I know there’s some etiquette to it that 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 “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?

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

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