Someone I recently met ignored my text, what to do next? (Non-romantic)
June 4, 2023 6:44 AM   Subscribe

I have a somewhat petty situation and idk why it's bothering me so I just wanted some outside perspectives on what to do.

I work in a very small niche industry and recently I got a job offer with a reputable company. However I found out that someone in the role prior left after 6 months. After asking around, a mutual friend connected me to this ex-employee and he was willing to chat with me about his experience.

We hopped on a call and had a good conversation. He shared some negative experiences but weren't bad enough to turn me away from the job. Afterward, I immediately added him to linked in and he accepted but then a few days later, I removed the connection because I was worried that the employees at the new company would come to my page and see him as a mutual connection and would know we chatted. I then send him a text message to thank him for chatting with me and letting him know I removed the connection but will re-connect in the future. This was about a month ago and he didn't respond back.

Fast forward I'm now in the new job so last week I sent a quick text about how it's going so far and asked him how long it took to feel comfortable in the role. I also re-sent an invitation to connect on LinkedIn. He has ignored both my text and LinkedIn invite. It's been 4 days so I assume I'm not hearing back again.

I'm not sure if I did anything wrong and I'm worried it might be awkward when we meet in the future at a business conference. Am I overthinking this? Thoughts on following up again via text vs. Just let it be and move on?
posted by missybitsy to Work & Money (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You're overthinking this; he probably was happy to help at the time, but is busy - and a month less connected to the job that you now have - and doesn't really see a need to respond or walk you through the role.
posted by sagc at 6:47 AM on June 4 [32 favorites]

Also, there have been periods many times longer than just 4 days where I haven't touched linkedin, and have ignored any connection requests I get, just on the basis that I don't really use it. So I wouldn't read into that.
posted by sagc at 6:48 AM on June 4 [14 favorites]

I think the back and forth with the LinkedIn invite, de-invite, text explanation, etc (not that you did anything wrong) may seem like a tiny bit of drama or complications and maybe he feels it's just easier not to respond. Again, you did nothing wrong and I understand your reasoning behind the de-invitation and all, but personally if in his situation I might shy away from getting pulled into something, if that makes sense...

It's also possible that he just hasn't replied for unrelated reasons which is also very common!

I doubt that he's gravely offended or anything. I would say don't send a follow up text. I don't think it's a big deal and I don't think it needs to be awkward when you see him agai .
posted by bearette at 6:51 AM on June 4 [46 favorites]

I don't think you've done anything wrong, but it sounds like you're getting signals that he's not interested in having ongoing conversations about a job he left, or coaching you on how to succeed in a job he left. I'd just drop it for now. If he eventually responds back enthusiastically, you can pick it back up. But for now, mentally express gratitude that he helped you with the decision about taking the job and release any expectations that it was more than that.
posted by lapis at 6:52 AM on June 4 [46 favorites]

I think that second text you sent is odd, and overstepping.

He already spent time on the phone with you, a stranger, giving you free inside information about the job. That was already generous of him. Most people would send him a "thank you!" text at this point and be done with it, knowing that the favor has been banked but that otherwise there's no need for followup.

Your second text, and your seesawing about Linkedin, would come off to me as weird. I'm guessing he doesn't want to continue to be involved in your process and that's why he hasn't responded, which seems reasonable.

It's no big deal, but just leave it be now.
posted by fingersandtoes at 6:56 AM on June 4 [81 favorites]

You're overthinking this.

I agree that the adding and removing and adding again on LinkedIn, as well as all the texting, was a bit much. I would say that one conversation makes you barely more than business acquaintances, and a better approach would have been just to add him on LinkedIn after your first call, message him to thank him for the call and let that be that. If it is a small niche industry, what's the harm in your co-workers knowing that you know him?

I'm worried it might be awkward when we meet in the future at a business conference.

I don't see a reason for it to be awkward, as he has done nothing wrong.

Don't follow up by text.
posted by unicorn chaser at 6:58 AM on June 4 [6 favorites]

If he has never responded to any of your texts, then it could also be that his phone is malfunctioning and doesn't display his texts or does not send you his replies. I have run into this sometimes.
posted by brainwane at 7:14 AM on June 4

Agreed with fingersandtoes. He's already given you a lot of his time, continuing to ask him for insight is asking too much. He's likely giving you the polite brush-off meaning no harm no foul but he just can't give you more special attention. You're overthinking future interactions -- when you see him at the conference just a casual 'hey there, thanks again for the insight you gave me, it was very kind of you to take the time. how have you been/how's your work' etc -- ie show interest in what he is doing, not just how he can help you.
posted by greta simone at 7:21 AM on June 4 [12 favorites]

"I then send him a text message to thank him for chatting with me and letting him know I removed the connection but will re-connect in the future."

To me, that does not sound at all like something that would require a response! It sounds like you were closing the loop for now and saying that you'll reach out again in the future.

No action is required (or even desirable) right now. If you see him at a conference in the future, you'll say, "So great to meet you in person! Thanks for your insight last month/year/decade. What are you up to now?"
posted by mskyle at 7:31 AM on June 4 [6 favorites]

He generously gave you some insight, but that doesn't make him a mentor or a friend. He was a LinkedIn connection but you broke that connection so it wouldn't reflect poorly on you that you were chatting with a former employee.

At best this guy is thinking, "this is too much emotional investment and back-and-forth for a business acquaintance" and at worst he's thinking, "she broke the connection so she wouldn't look bad for knowing me but now she wants more input so she's back? Nah. I'm out."

No more texting. If you see him at a conference, wave and say, "Hey, hope you're doing well!'
posted by kimberussell at 8:15 AM on June 4 [11 favorites]

I would come from this whole exchange that you are a person who is not interested in a professional connection and wants to use me for their own benefit. Removing a low-stakes thing like a LinkedIn connection is pretty anti-social stuff right after they gave you their time. It would feel to me this person is a lot of work for a casual connection and I’d not be that interested in any further communication.

So I’m not surprised the person isn’t responding and you should drop it. Consider it a lesson learned that you can use going forward.
posted by openhearted at 8:23 AM on June 4 [7 favorites]

Even if everything had gone totally normally before today, many people go weeks or months between touching LinkedIn. Four days is not even slightly worth worrying about.

On top of that, it’s fairly unusual to expect an ongoing connection with this person beyond the very generous time he already gave you, and being a LinkedIn connection potentially at some point. He’s done enough. This sort of connection is meant to be a one off most of the time. Just move along.
posted by Stacey at 9:10 AM on June 4 [1 favorite]

Unfriending and friending the way you did gives me “I’ll be your friend when nobody cool is looking” vibes. Any advice he gave you after only 6 months would probably be poor anyways. I wouldn’t bother contacting him anymore unless you had some value to add to his career.
posted by tchemgrrl at 9:11 AM on June 4 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for your candid input. I agree I was being a little paranoid about unfriending thing. I just wanted to explain that our conversation was meant to be a secret and he told me not to tell anyone what he said because he was not happy in his role. So I removed the connection more so to protect both of us but I get that maybe it's a bit paranoid and no one cares. Additionally he was very kind and told me to reach out to him at anytime so that's why I considered him an acquaintance after the first convo. Our industry is really small so I definitely don't want to offend anyone. But will take this as lesson learned.
posted by missybitsy at 9:24 AM on June 4

Another take is that this person may be reluctant to form a relationship with you because they want to move on from the old job. Presumably, since they were unhappy, they are quite relieved to have moved on and for it to be in their past. Perhaps they were happy to give you their perspective, either generously to potentially stop another soul from suffering as they have, or cynically because they have beef with their former employer and wanted to frustrate their new hire.

Either way, it seems like you are only interested in connecting with this person so that they can help you in your new role. The only thing it appears you're offering is a connection to a painful time, and a slippery slope into still being involved in a job they did not enjoy (only this time without pay).

If this sounds harsh, I only frame it that way because you say it's unusual for you to fret over something like this. I think it's possible that you sense you have annoyed or offended this person, and I think it's possible that you have.

It's totally OK to just let this drop. This person will move on, you will have your experiences, good or bad, in this new job, and if you run into eachother you can catch up.
posted by pazazygeek at 9:25 AM on June 4 [5 favorites]

Since you just met him, I wouldn't worry too much. And I hate linkedin. I can't get them to leave me alone. E-mail? (although I'm told people don't use that as much as they used to.)
posted by Rumi'sLeftSock at 9:51 AM on June 4

The real answer is that we are all just guessing. Since this is a small industry, you need to shake this off and find a version that allows you to just be chill with whatever happens next.

What you know is that you two had a very good conversation and he was friendly and helpful.
And then you sent up some follow up messages and he didn't reply because
a. he doesn't follow Linked in and didn't see them
b. he is very busy
c. you weirded him out and were too much drama
d. he meant this to be one-time thing and didn't expect follow up communication
e. he doesn't want to keep thinking about the old job
f. he's further away in time from the old job and doesn't care as much

In all of these except for (c), you did nothing wrong and his silence is fine. I think most of us tend to assume that things are all about us and the answer that makes it all our fault is the most believable but I really think that doesn't fit the facts as well as some of the other answers. Although again, we are all just guessing.

My advice: assume he will have a somewhat positive view of you based on the good conversation but following up doesn't work for some reason. Let it drop for now. Since this is a small industry and you are likely to cross paths again, I might send a short message at, say, the six month mark letting him know how the job worked out and thanking him again for conversation. Write it a way that doesn't ask or expect any follow up. Then let it go until you bump into him or he contacts you. In meanwhile look for opportunities to pay it forward, helping out others in your industry to build your breadth of connections.
posted by metahawk at 12:02 PM on June 4 [4 favorites]

Perhaps they signed an NDA at some point and are worried about being drawn into any discussion that leaves a paper trail? NDAs can be really convoluted and over-reaching, so could feel vulnerable. You're just a stranger who's now working for the very company they signed that agreement with. They might not have felt this way about it when first talking to you but have re-considered.
posted by brachiopod at 12:26 PM on June 4

Pazazygeek has it, I think. I wasn't sure from your original post how unhappy they'd been but based on your followup, the simplest explanation is that they would like to put this job behind them. There are valued coworkers I genuinely liked from my last job who I struggle to maintain contact with because they're still working there and I simply don't want to think about it ever again; for an effective stranger I don't think the desire to keep in touch would win out.
posted by babelfish at 2:32 PM on June 4 [3 favorites]

"this is too much emotional investment and back-and-forth for a business acquaintance"

This is what I'd put my money on. I'm willing to do a lot to help strangers get jobs in my industry but once it looks like they're just going to be a source of drama, I'm going to ghost. I've got enough drama of my own without taking on someone who I don't know's additional stuff.
posted by Candleman at 10:48 PM on June 4 [1 favorite]

This person is a stranger to you who I promise is not thinking about you anywhere near this much. I have absolutely no idea how many pending invitations I have on LinkedIn, because I literally check them maybe once a year. And lots of people just don't like texting or feel the need to engage in small talk. You're repeatedly asking this person for favors--including now when you're asking about advice about feeling comfortable in your new job--and he indulged you once, but has expressed no interest in continuing to engage. Just drop it, continue to be friendly strangers, and say hi politely if you run into him in person in the future. Do not text again or send any additional messages asking him for favors.
posted by decathecting at 11:37 AM on June 7 [3 favorites]

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