Networking: When It’s OK to Lie


I know the ten commandments suggest not to, but sometimes, thou SHALT lie:

If you’re on a night out, your friend asks whether her hair looks weird – and it does, and there’s nothing she can do about it right now, tell her no. If your brother was right in the middle of an important interview and accidentally let out a massive (and noisy) fart, then he asks you – mortified – if you think the interviewers laughed at him after he left, say, “They probably don’t even remember”.

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that I’m usually all about not lying – not being a fake, schmoozy, gross caricature of everything people hate about networking.

But sometimes: you need to. Here are those times:

(1) When extracting yourself from a conversation with someone you’re SUPER bored of talking to.

In THIS video, you learn how to get out of an awkward conversation, gracefully. In it, I explain how it’s about smiling warmly, looking them deep in the eyes and saying, “It was LOVELY to meet you”.

But the truth is, it wasn’t always lovely to meet them. Sometimes, it was pretty terrible.

But if this was the case, don’t tell them.

The whole point of this method – Clooney-ing, if you will – is that you leave them feeling better not worse. So, even if what you’re thinking is, “It was awful to meet you, you are a terrible bore, you don’t ask any questions, you’ve spent the entire conversation staring at my bangers and you’ve spat on me several times”, don’t say this.
“It was LOVELY to meet you!” *dazzling smile* *firm handshake* *confident walking away*.

(2) When you’re adding value to a big-shot in your industry (or anyone busy whom you want to notice you), one of the methods I show you in THIS video is to send them an article about something they’d be interested in:


Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 12.59.22 PM

What I suggest you say to them is, “I saw this article and thought of you”.

The truth of the matter is more likely to be, “I spent twenty minutes searching your twitter and facebook feeds to see what you’re into, then spent another twenty minutes googling to find interesting, relevant articles, and now I’m sending you one”. Do not say this.

(3) When someone says, “What do you do?” and you don’t currently have a job or any work at all, there is no shame in that – but sometimes you might still HATE answering the question.


You might recall that there was a point in my life where, when people asked me “What do you do?” I considered answering with the truth: “Mostly, I pacrying babyce the corridors of my apartment, weeping, wondering why I ever left my great job in Edinburgh. Sometimes I’ll mix it up a bit with panicking that, having only ever done radio, I’m completely unemployable in every field”. Do not say this.

Instead, my gift to you is a reminder of the word “freelancing”.

Saying, “I’ve been doing some freelancing” is a wonderful way to make yourself sound important, while being so vague that no one is going to question it.

If pressed further, you could say something like, “Yeah, I have a friend who’s a consultant, so I’ve been helping him with research and implementing some systems within the functional structure of communications networks. What are you working on right now?”.

Use enough jargon that they’ll lose interest, then turn the conversation towards them.
Asking questions makes you more interesting, anyway. (If you need help finding some jargon, this business jargon generator is pretty great)

At this point, I’d like to re-iterate that there is NO SHAME in currently being out of work or looking for work. I’m offering you this in case it’s something you – like I used to – hate talking about during this kind of a period of your life.


So there you go: the three times I’d encourage you to lie.


(1) When you’re getting out of a conversation with someone you’re not wild about

(2) When adding value that you’ve taken some time to research

(3) If you hate answering, “What do you do?” at a stage in life where you don’t really do anything, but need to say something before you flip the conversation back to them.

Sometimes, it’s ok to lie. Marsha tells you when:


I’d love to know your thoughts on any of the above – or other times that you’ve found little white lies healthy and useful. Tell me in the comments below!

Thanks so much for reading. If something I said made you think of that friend of yours, you can share this with them using one of the round buttons below.


xx (Yes Yes) Marsha



PS want to know my best-ever client secret – and get even more advice, tips, plus stories that I won’t put on the internet? Come and join the Yes Yes Family – it’s free! Just pop your details in below:


Photo credits: jintae kim’s photography and Crystal Marie Lopez, both via Compfight cc


  • Trudy

    Reply Reply February 18, 2015

    YES YES Marsha!! That is such handy tips for being-kind-in-a-lil-white-lie! I am going to print these and keep them in my handbag……..:)

  • sam

    Reply Reply February 18, 2015

    So funny!
    I’m an expert at method 1, and method 2 made me laugh and laugh.
    Love your blog YYM!! Value and hilarity in one fell swoop :)

  • Holly Gillen

    Reply Reply February 18, 2015

    You are always full of the best advice and you have such a knack for delivering it with a kick of enjoyable humor. Cheers buddy.

  • Elyse Sparkes

    Reply Reply February 19, 2015

    So true! I also find that even though I’m not lying when I say what I do (I get people moving through in-person personal training + online fitness programs), the more I practice saying it with CONVICTION, the more I believe it myself. Love your posts + your insights Marsha!

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