Have you ever been to a networking event and said no? I have. I didn’t use to tell many folks no, but I learned there’s a time to say no at a networking event. It might seem counter-intuitive, but saying no can save you from situations that are a waste of time, uncomfortable, or worse. Do you know when to say no at a networking event?
When to Say No at a Networking
When you can’t help
Here’s one example, someone asks you for help with a job at your company. If you can’t help, if you’re not in a role that makes hiring decisions, if you wouldn’t feel comfortable introducing someone to them, or there are no openings, then don’t say something like, “I’ll see what I can do”. Tell them there are no openings or you’re not the person who decides.
There are hundreds of other examples of when to say no at a networking event from being asked to donate or volunteer, to strangers wanting to connect on LinkedIn or who ask you to like their page, sight unseen (should that be site unseen?)
When it’s not a good fit
A supplier wants to meet with you, but you’re happy with your present supplier and know the vendor’s product isn’t what you need. Don’t set a meeting. Say no, take a card if you want, but let the vendor know you’re not in the market.
When someone’s too pushy
If someone doesn’t take no for an answer then give it to them – tell them no. If they’re too pushy now, it ain’t gonna get better.
When it’s gossip
In a perfect world passive-aggressive complaining, character assassination, and unfounded rumors wouldn’t be part of a networking event, but we don’t live in a perfect world, do we? You may not be able to stop toxic gossip, but you can stop being part of it. Just because you don’t spread gossip doesn’t mean you’re not part of it. If you listen to it, then you’re an accessory to gossip. The next time someone asks you, “Did you hear about so and so at ABX Company” tell them if its gossip they want to share, you don’t want to hear it. Tell them no.
When it turns negative
I don’t have time for toxic people, do you? When cornered by someone at a networking event that only has negative things to say, what do you do? I excuse myself and politely find another conversation.
If it becomes too personal
When someone starts asking me things that I only share with my closest friends I politely let them know their inquiry isn’t appropriate to the setting.
Just Say No!
It’s not only okay to say no there are times it’s commendable to do so. A networking event isn’t a place where all things go, and no one should feel obligated to listen to or share a conversation that makes them uncomfortable. The next time you’re at an event, and someone is too pushy, or spreading gossip, or becomes too personal – tell them no because you know when to say no at a networking event.