It’s important to recognize when someone’s opportunity is your distraction. These are generally situations where someone’s project is not on mission for your business or your life. In these situations, you need to learn how to say no. The word “no” is a one-word sentence. It’s just not a full sentence that I like to use very often and I think there are a fair number of people like me out there.
Don’t get me wrong, I am totally good with saying “no,” to people when it is necessary. The secret is: how do you say “no” without sounding like you don’t care?
If I said yes, I’d let you down.
A very effective way to tell someone “no” is to tell them that you believe that you’d let them down if you do what they are asking. It might be because you don’t have the bandwidth, the knowledge, or the expertise to do what they are asking. In any case, you’re not the person to help make this idea a success and you don’t want to disappoint them.
Recognize the difference between an opportunity and a distraction.
That begins by knowing your own personal or professional mission. If you know your purpose/expertise/mission then you can say “no” when someone comes to you with something that is a distraction to that mission. I do this all the time by telling people that my mission is to do X. As interesting as their idea is, it’s not something that fits with what I do.
Refer them to someone more qualified.
When I say “no” to someone, I almost always try to refer them to someone who is more qualified or more suited to help that person. I also try to refer them to someone who’s mission is more in alignment with their project.
To network well, you really need to learn how to help people, build relationships, and support your connections in some way. But sometimes, just sometimes, you need to also say “no” to requests that are made of you.