Saying No to a Networking Request

In today’s world of networking and social media to promote ourselves and our businesses, it can be tough to decide how to field requests that come in for your time and attention. And if you are successful, you are getting requests all the time. They want a chance to pick you brain, or take you out to coffee. These people want your time, attention, and probably for you to invest in something of theirs. So how do you evaluate these requests and weed through the good and the bad? How important is it to say no?

When a request comes in it can be flattering, or at least it was when you were just beginning your career. Now it can cause several things to happen, including reduce your productivity, take up valuable time you would spend with clients, and keep you from staying on top of your contacts you need to see regularly.

So how does this work. Well, there is many grey areas to accepting networking requests. You have close friends that you will always say yes to, and then there are the ones you do not know at all that are an automatic no, but what about all the ones in the middle? These are the ones that you will have to modify how to evaluate whether you accept the request or not.

Some good ways to do this are to:

  • Ask for more information. This can cut down on aimless conversations. This is also a good way to weed out anyone who has contacted you because they thought it was a good idea, but don’t really have another reason to contact you. The best thing to do is write back to them and ask how you can help them or if they can give you more specifics. This will cut the requests down significantly because most people will not write back.
  • Direct them to Resources. Once you understand what they are wanting by getting more information, you can provide them with more information by directing them to your many resources. Many will begin to ask for a private call or meeting, but you need to make them work for it. Direct them to other resources that are already public and if they are highly motivated they will have more questions and get back to you, otherwise you narrow down the inquirers.
  • Invite them to a group gathering. What if you are interested in meeting with someone, but don’t have time to do a one-on-one? A group gathering is the solution. Invite them to a group gathering where you can connect to multiple people at a time. It will also give them a chance to network with other people interested in the same thing they are, and maybe they will make new connections.
  • Just say no. Sometimes the easiest way to minimize your connection is to just say no, and not even a modified no, just no. There could be many reasons for this, including not enough time, you have minimal connection with the person, or they have proven themselves to be entitled to you time. Make the no firm, but respectful. They may be mad, but don’t let them fault you for your promptness or manners.

Despite our ability to be readily available to people does not mean you have to cater to their needs and wants. Be cautious of people just wanting to take your time away from you. Make sure you make them prove they are worthy of your time and energy. Be gracious and stay focused on your priorties.