Social network research has become a significant part of the entrepreneurship literature (Bartajagal, 2003; Birley, 1985; Kim & Aldrich, 2005; Stam & Elfring, 2008). The negative consequences of social networks and networking need to be considered to more fully understand there impact on the entrepreneurial process (Gargiulo & Benassi, 1999, 2000; Elfring & Hulsink, 2007). We add to the field by exploring one possible negative effect of social networks, network overload, by further developing the construct and validating a measure. Network overload was first introduced to the social network literature by Steier and Greenwood (2000), but has not been followed up on in a manner that elucidates its role in the entrepreneurial process.

We define network overload as the feeling that responsibilities created through interactions with one’s social network becomes overwhelming, and begins to impact the ability of ego to perform other necessary actions because of these responsibilities. This feeling may result from the entrepreneur’s lack of skill in networking, i.e. some people are more natural networkers than others, or their inability to pull resources out of the network.