I recently came across an old college "friend" at an industry event. I really consider him more of an acquaintance since we only saw each other due to a mutual friend. Furthermore he had declined my friend request on Facebook some years ago (face palm, I know, but it really does say something) and went out of his way to not include me in any hangouts with other friends.

To keep to the point he had asked me for my mobile number to "stay in touch" after a bit of chit chat, I really didn't want to give it to him but could come up with no reason. What could I possibly say without sounding hostile? I also didn't want to come across as bitter. We both had each others mobile numbers years before (say 5). But I really want nothing to do with this guy as he is just an opportunist, not to brag but I'm almost certain he just wants to reconnect to advance his career (perhaps say referral) since I have mid level position at a well known company in the area.

Which brings me to the question, how DO you decline giving a colleague or acquaintance that you have known for a number of years your mobile number? Random people I would say you could contact me on this email or feel free to add me on LinkedIn.

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    Do like Elaine does on Seinfeld: Give out the number of the bagel shop. – user41891 May 29 '18 at 21:14

Just deflect this and simply say that you prefer to use your email address instead for work related networking and that you only have your mobile for personal use.

This might not be strictly true, but it's difficult to argue with.

He might email you in the future, but it's easier to sugar-coat an email answer than be caught unprepared on the phone.


Say something like:

  • "Sorry, I only give my tel. number to good friends and family"
  • "I hope to see you at another event soon though!"
  • and then excuse yourself and go

Don't give him your email address unless you want him to bother you with emails, which is almost as bad as phoning someone.

  • My way to handle my cellphone before there were smartphones made it credible to say sorry I don't know my number and also don't have my phone with me in the moment :-) It really was the case, ok these days it's different. – puck May 30 '18 at 20:28

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