Q: I just landed a great job, in part because I made a greater effort to network with friends and family. I started my job about 2 weeks ago. I am getting a lot of requests to meet others for coffee, lunch, etc. to network. I don’t take lunch very often, or I have lunch with my new co-workers. I can’t really leave for coffee during the day. At the end of the day, I have to pick up my son by a certain time at his child care center. I feel badly saying now, but I can’t possibly meet with all of these people. It is becoming a problem. I rely heavily on commissions, and many of my prospects are in CA, so I often need to be available after hours in Boston. What are your thoughts?
A. I understand completely! I receive frequent requests from near and far. It sounds like your world and my world have some similarities. Time is money and time is precious. However, I do believe in giving back so I try to respond to reasonable requests. It also sounds like networking helped you land your current job. Others may want to learn from you including what was effective and what was a waste of your time.
Here are some tips that I have used:
1. Carve out a short period of time on the phone, maybe 15 minutes or so. If your schedule permits, try to connect with others by phone or via a video call.
2. Connect with them on Linkedin. Explain that your current role is demanding but you would be happy to connect on LinkedIn.
3. I usually commit 1-2 hours to networking requests each week. Often times people will get angry since I cannot work with their schedules. My availability for networking requests is often at 7:30am before my work day starts. Some job seekers are frustrated by the times I have available. In some rare instances, I offer an early Saturday morning call or Sunday evening call, but, like you, I would prefer to spend that time re-charging my batteries and spend time with family and friends.
One way to respond is, “I just started my new job in April. I really like it but it requires long hours and I have a significant commute too. I would be happy to talk with you by phone during my commute home next Thursday but that is probably the best I can do right now.”
Pattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Boston.com Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.