Gabriel Nam is associate director of marketing and digital at Michael Page. He has almost 10 years of recruitment experience in Hong Kong, as well as international exposure in Europe and Asia, managing teams of consultants across various industries.
When networking starts to affect your personal life, it’s time to tell your boss
My boss often calls me for casual meetings after hours. I initially agreed, wanting to learn more about the business and network. Lately, I have been feeling as though I have too little time for my family, but I get the sense that I will be compromising my career if I say “no”. How do I turn her down delicately, while maintaining our good working relationship?
Networking is challenging for many professionals. It is always advisable to maintain a good professional and personal relationship with your boss, as it makes your day-to-day work easier. As you know, occasional networking with senior colleagues will definitely increase your exposure — sometimes informal networking is the best way to market yourself — and you could benefit from meeting senior professionals in your field.
In your case, it seems that you are unsure whether your boss treats these social occasions as personal or professional.
Your boss may be using you as a ‘drinking buddy’, or she may be trying to help you feel integrated at your firm. She may also think she is helping to motivate you and develop your career.
This being said, if networking starts to adversely affect your personal life, you should not hesitate to tell your boss.
Turn down her next offer, and let her know that, while you remain keen on taking part in some networking activities, you may no longer be available as often as before. Explain that your family is fairly demanding at this stage of your children’s lives.
By keeping the door to networking open, but ensuring you are not always available, you can maintain a good relationship with your boss. Hopefully, she will ask you to go out on a less frequent basis.
If your boss is reasonable, saying “no” to the next invitation may not jeopardise your career, and keeping silent is surely the worst outcome.
Establishing a positive work-life balance is critical to job satisfaction, and a good manager should be cognisant and respectful of an employee’s need to spend time with their family. Confront the problem in a composed and comfortable way as possible and you should get a positive outcome.
Should your boss treat you unfairly because you declined an offer to socialise with her, you always have the option to look for opportunities elsewhere.
Remember that, as an experienced professional, your performance should be judged on your achievements in-house and contribution to the company. Sometimes your supervisor’s preference and perception will play a part, but this will only be secondary and complementary.
This article appeared in the Classified Post print edition as Don't let networking compromise your personal life.