You know how important it is to continually grow your network. And you also know that checking in with your contacts a big part of that. In fact, you’re willing to put in however much work it takes, because that’s just how committed you are. People get busy, things slip off the radar, but you’ll keep reminding your connections you exist so they have one less thing to remember.
Unfortunately, even though you have the right intentions, the actions you’re taking are likely to backfire. That’s because there’s a tipping point between thoughtful contact and nuisance—and you keep blowing past it. You’ve skipped past helpful, breezed by diligent, and now risk being pigeonholed as difficult (even though I know that’s the very opposite of who you’re trying to be). That’s because staying in touch with you takes too much time and effort.
So, check out if any of these scenarios ring a little too true. If you identify with these signs, it’s time to back off.
1. You Have Multiple Points of Contact at the Same Company
You know “finding an ‘in’” at a company is worthwhile; and so you figure, if one is good, more than one is probably better. After all, if you know the whole staff, you’ll seem like a natural fit when a job opens up.
Maybe you figure different team members will do things differently; so making multiple contacts is logical. Or maybe you want to be noticed for your ideas, and this way, even if one person shoots you down, someone else will like what you have to say. Regardless, it’s not a big deal to send separate emails to a whole department—right, because at the very least, everyone will know you care?
This is actually a bad strategy for a number of reasons (not even counting how much time it’ll take on your end). When the co-workers learn that you’ve reached out to all of them and they’re basically doing duplicate work responding to you, it’ll count against you. Additionally, you’re pretty much saying you don’t 100% trust anyone you’re contacting. That doesn’t make people feel great.
The solution is to do your research on the front end and reach out to the staff member who seems most appropriate. If you feel like this person is blowing you off, you can ask if there’s someone else who’d be better suited to assist you. Still getting the runaround? It may be a sign (or red flag) that the company isn’t what it appears from the outside.
2. You’re a “Double-Emailer”
What’s a double-emailer? That would be someone who sends two emails in a row, without a response from the other person in between. It doesn’t include those times when you forget an attachment or you hit send before you finished typing. It encompasses the situations in which you follow up because you haven’t gotten a response in your ideal time frame. Emphasis on your.
Sure, sometimes you need to follow up within 24 hours (or even sooner), like when some decision is being made or some report is being published and you need the latest numbers or approval ASAP. But, these sort of time-sensitive matters rarely happen in networking scenarios. If your second email’s a check-in (e.g., confirming the other person saw the first email, asking if you can send anything else along, saying “hi”), basically poking and prodding with no hard deadline looming—you’re double emailing.
If someone isn’t getting back to you, odds are she’s super busy and your note isn’t a top priority. In this instance, your next email will likely be ignored too, until she moves further down her to-do list. Pushing her to get back to you—and sooner rather than later!—won’t bump you up the list. But it can make you look impatient (or inconsiderate).
The solution is to wait at least seven days. At that point, you can send one—and only one—email to see if your contact received your last message. Maybe you’ll hear back, maybe you won’t. But if it’s the latter, please, I beg of you, don’t be a triple or quadruple-emailer. It’s not pretty and it’s not going to change things.
3. You Feel Like You’ve Been Ghosted
This is similar to the situation above in that your connection isn’t getting back to you. But it can be even more confusing because it seems straight up out of nowhere. You weren’t a nuisance last week, so why is this person ignoring you now?
In all reality, you probably were overdoing it before, too. But initially, the other person was uncomfortable telling you to go away. Or, maybe she was dropping hints that she couldn’t be as connected as you’d like, but after deciding you just weren’t getting it, she gave up.
Replying less (and sometimes not at all) is a strategy to get people to send less email. This more drastic measure—not responding in the hopes you’ll finally get the message—may actually be a last-ditch effort to save the relationship by making it more manageable.
So, the solution is to do just that. It’s not that you can’t ever connect with this person again, but you do need to recognize you’ve burnt her out a bit. So, give it a rest. Don’t reach out for a few weeks or even a month, and when you do get back in touch, include something of value for the other person.
More isn’t always better, and that’s definitely true for networking. It’s possible to overdo your outreach. So, if you recognize yourself in any of the scenarios above, take a step back. Your contacts will appreciate it—and when you do reach out, you’ll be more likely to get a response.
Photo of people meeting courtesy of Sam Edwards/Getty Images.
TopicsNetworking , Email , Communication , Getting Ahead , Career Advice , Impress Me by Sara McCord , Syndication
Sara McCord most often writes about making a better professional impression. She's been published on Mashable (where she was a regular career contributor), as well as Forbes, Newsweek, TIME, Inc., and Business Insider. A Staff Writer/Editor for The Muse, Sara has experience managing programs; recruiting, interviewing, and referring job applicants; building strategic partnerships; advising executive directors; and supporting a national network of volunteers. See more of her writing on her website or follow her on Twitter @sarajmccord.More from this Author