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Blogging with the Stars

Who No’s? Try Saying Yes or Sharing With Others

I saw the show “Oklahoma” the other night. What incredible music! (Are you older than you think you are when you say, “They don’t write them like that anymore”?) “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning,” Everything’s Up to Date in Kansas City,” “All or Nothin’,” “I Can’t Say No.”

Hearing that last song was funny because the art of saying no seems to be quite the fodder for articles these days. Blogger extraordinaire Chris Brogan wrote a piece about it Saturday called “How to Say No” that drew 88 comments and 399 reactions. Here’s an excerpt:

What Should You Say No To

My friend, Brian Clark had this great thought on this onstage at PubCon the other week. He said, “I ask whether the project will help my existing community. If not, I really have to consider it.” That’s one way to do it, especially if you’re already working with a focused community. It’s not useful to me because I work across several communities.

Instead, I’ve built little “ecosystem maps” and I ask whether the project will help any part of the larger ecosystem, and then whether I should do it or if I should refer it. Often times, B is the better answer, but sometimes, things can’t be transferred. So, I just look at my map. And whatever I can’t say yes to, I share with others.

I first came across Brogan’s website a few weeks ago and then laughed a bit to hear his name come up during SIPA’s Marketing Conference. In the middle of the rapid-fire session, “Top 30 Social Media Marketing Tips in 60 Minutes,” Matt Bailey of SiteLogic told a story about 30 guys walking into a bar for Monday Night Football—steel manufacturers. “One of the guys said ‘we need to be on the Twitter.’ ‘Who do you sell to?’ someone else asked. ‘I buy to him and sell to him,’ he said pointing. ‘We don’t have to be on Twitter!’ ” The moral, Bailey said: face to face is still an effective means of building a network.

Then it was Voce Communications’ Doug Haslam’s turn. He looked at his notes, looked at Bailey and said “Chris Brogan.” Bailey looked at him and agreed. Chris Brogan. Next tip. (For the record, Brogan is a New York Times bestselling co-author of “Trust Agents” and a featured monthly columnist at Entrepreneur Magazine. His blog is in the top 5 of the Advertising Age Power150.)

Interestingly, I just read another column about saying no by Dan Beyers, the editor of “Capital Business,” The Washington Post’s weekly business section. He took a different approach from Brogan:

Last week, I should have told a student from the University of Maryland that I didn’t have time to sit for an interview for a class project. Except I remembered when I was in his place oh-so-many years ago and needed someone to make time for me.

His questions were refreshingly innocent. They actually made me reflect on my career here at The Post and how I ended up at Capital Business. Like a lot of people, I can sometimes get so caught up in the here and now that I can forget why I’m doing what I’m doing. It was nice to re-center.

Which is why, as necessary as it is sometimes to say no, I hate doing so.

“No” has a way of limiting possibilities.

I agree with Beyers. I’m not quite as popular as Brogan—although a guy can dream—so I try to say yes to most of the invitations I get these days. Yesterday, a friend invited me to a holiday reception for volunteers for a local hospital. It was hard to get to and forced me to come in to the office at about 6 a.m. to make sure I’d finish everything, but I made some good contacts there—and cemented a friendship.

It just seems like saying yes can open a lot more doors.

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