I am constantly invited to client events or ballgames after work and on weekends. How do I gracefully decline the invitations? – Tara in Denver, CO
LYNN: The answer is simple, Tara: be authentic and genuine. Sincerely thank them for the attention and kind invitation. Then kindly decline. You do not need to give a reason. Try this: “Tara, you are so thoughtful to include me. I truly appreciate the invitation. It would be a pleasure to spend time with you. Unfortunately, I have existing plans and will not be able to make this event.”
There are few considerations regarding client events. It’s is a terrific opportunity for you to build upon your relational capital when you connect on a personal level with your customer. Activities out of the office allow you to get to know your clients better and create shared memories. Strong relationships are a cornerstone of successful sales. Take advantage of at least some of these offers. You’ll strengthen your bond and enjoy the experience.
TINA: While there are certain boundaries to respect, many robust business relationships include after-hour and weekend invitations. They provide a great opportunity to build rapport. Think of how much business is conducted (and closed) during a round of golf!
Some of us have a difficult time saying “no,” particularly when it’s a client. We don’t want to miss an opportunity to socialize with our client, we don’t want our client to misinterpret our decline as a “brush off.” However, as with other invitations that come our way, there are times that we simply have other plans. It is okay to say “no, thank you.” You might suggest getting together another time – or invite your client to one of your events – to maintain that level of rapport.
Lynn Whitbeck is the co-founder and President of Petite2Queen. She is focused on identifying and evaluating opportunities for women at work, helping them define their personal roadmap. She dedicates herself to delivering tools and insights, embracing visualization of the big picture, and identifying and implementing the minutiae of detail. Lynn aims to share lessons learned along her journey and enable positive uplift for women.