No thank you… is that really so hard to say? I get that people are busy, and that we all get a little overwhelmed sometimes from all the marketing that we see. But if we’ve got a long-standing relationship and I’m reaching out with an offer, a favor for a friend, someone looking for a job, or just to run something by you, then I would really, really like to see a response other than pure silence. Wouldn’t you? Occasionally a call, email, or bit of social outreach simply slips through the cracks. I get that. But you should make an effort to respond. It doesn’t have to be a yes, but anything is better than crickets!

When you’re creating marketing outreach, you’ll usually get out of the process about what you put into it. If you send out a massive, impersonal email blast to everyone you’ve ever met, with an offer that none of them asked for, then it will be no surprise if most of those emails fall on deaf ears.

If you use social strictly as an advertising medium without putting in the effort to build relationships with your connections, then you shouldn’t be shocked when those connections ignore your very special offer. Cold calling someone who has never even heard of your business? Don’t be surprised when they ditch you to get back to whatever they were doing before you interrupted.

But there are also plenty of us – myself included – who prefer to handle marketing in a more personal, relationship-based way. If we’ve got a long-standing professional or personal relationship, built on courtesy and mutual respect, then I’m not going to waste your time with an offer that isn’t relevant to your needs or a favor that is asking too much. I’m going to personalize the message, speak to the needs of the individual, and get to the point as quickly as possible.

As nice as it would be to get an affirmative response, I know there is no guarantee that you’ll be interested in what I have to offer, what I need, or what I have to say. And that’s okay! When I hit send, I know that not everyone will respond positively, so you’re not going to hurt my feelings by turning me down. In fact, I appreciate “no thank you” so much more than getting nothing at all in return. It’s so easy to say you’re not interested in a quick, courteous way, so that everyone involved can get on with their lives.

Nobody likes to be left hanging, and that’s especially true when you’re dealing with someone you’ve spent time with, professionally or otherwise. If both sides can’t make the effort to treat one another with respect, then there’s probably not much to the relationship in the first place. So when I get a message from someone I know, I ALWAYS make the effort to respond… even when I’m not interested. It takes all of 30 seconds, and next time I interact with that person there won’t be any lingering tension about ignoring the last message.

The thing about relationships is that the little stuff adds up, both positive and negative. Investing the truly small amount of time required to take care of those little things – like saying no thank you when you’re not interested – is an indication that you care about that person and want to maintain the relationship. So if someone you know reaches out directly, take the time to respond even if you have to say no thanks to what they have to offer. In the end, your relationship will be better for it.

Your brand is what you do, your reputation is what people remember and share.

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