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.
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