When you are a talented person who enjoys being involved in your community, it is likely that people will ask you to be part of all kinds of things. They may ask you to join a committee that is creating networking opportunities. An organization might invite you to serve on a non-profit board or help organize a fundraising event, or someone may request you to head up a project at church. The number of things others ask you to do may expand if you have children who are also involved in the community.
It is likely that you’ll want to say yes to at least some of these opportunities. In fact, being in a position to give back may have been part of the catalyst that got you into owning your own business. The problem is that you are likely to end up stretched pretty thin if you say yes too often.
Serving in your community can open doors and help you forge connections with people you might not otherwise know. This means that serving can benefit your bottom line. But the benefits only come if you actually have enough bandwidth to be seen as someone who is dependable. This means it is critical to only say yes if you are able to execute your volunteer duties, and your regular duties, well. When you say yes to more than you can handle, the result can hurt your bottom line.
We’ve talked about rules before. If you missed Reasonable Rules, now would be a great time to review that information. If saying no, when appropriate, is hard for you, then creating a new rule might be exactly what you need.
When you are asked to do something, make it a policy not to say yes immediately. Most people are okay if you take a few days to think about the request. This gives you a chance to check in with the important people in your life and to carefully weigh the benefits. It also gives you a chance to thoroughly research the organization so you have a better feel for your own engagement. This might include finding out if you know anyone who is already involved and asking them for input. Doing a little research helps you determine what answer you really want to give.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself when evaluating a request:
- Is this something I feel passionate about? You are more likely to willingly sacrifice your time if you care about the work to do.
- Is there a clear benefit to me or my business? When you can see a definitive benefit to your bottom line, it is easier to carve out time.
- Is there someone involved that makes me want to say yes? There are people who have bent over backward to help me. If they ask, I’m a lot more likely to say yes.
- What are the pitfalls I anticipate? Every opportunity has great things about it and other things that aren’t so great. Work through worst case scenarios so you prepare yourself for whatever may not be pleasant.
- How much time will it take (and can I actually give that much time)? Remember, if you take on this role, you’ll want to do it well. So take the amount of time someone quotes and add on a little more for the unexpected.
Is there something else you’ve said yes to that you are ready to move off your plate? Especially with serving on boards, your term isn’t forever. If you know you will soon be stepping off of a board, then you might have availability in your schedule for something new.
If the answer needs to be no to a request, tell the person who asked you as kindly as possible. Be direct enough that they know the door is closed and the answer is really no. If you know someone you think might be interested instead, help them make that connection. Be gracious, kind, and firm.
Charlise Latour a business coach and owner of Accelerate Your Success. She works with each client to determine what their goals are and create a plan so they can achieve them. She is actively involved in Dancing & Singing With The King which raises money to promote dance education including working with local schools to offer dance classes during the school day. This is a natural fit as she is an avid ballroom dancer.