Recently I was asked by a contact to take on a small project.  The project would probably last all of 3-4 hours, and it would benefit an association that I am a part of.  This was a volunteer project…and I said NO.

Well to be clear, I politely declined.  Not because it wasn’t paid. In fact volunteering has a great impact on your contacts. It’s because it’s not in my wheelhouse.

Here’s the thing….

If you asked me to come speak about how to read a balance sheet, or a Profit and Loss Statement, I would decline.  That’s not where my expertise lives. If on the other hand you asked me to come speak about how to increase trust with contacts and referrals partners, now that’s something I know about.

So…what happened in this scenario? Well, I was approached and asked to meet with a few people and audit some financials.  When I read the word audit, my eyes glossed over, and the rest of the email was a blur! I started getting chills, and I think I may have even broken out in hives!  See…here’s the deal. For the 16 years I owned my website agency, I always struggled with this side of the business. So much so that I relied on others to help me with that stuff.  That’s what great business owners do, they find help for their weaknesses.

I knew I couldn’t take on this volunteer project and do it justice.  I might actually get the task done, but it would consume me, I would fret about the validity of it, and I think I would be doing the group a disservice. What if I missed something, that others would not have missed.  I just couldn’t see doing this correctly.

Therefore, I politely declined sending the following message to my contact:

[name redacted]
I really want to help the [group redacted], but this task, I just can’t do.  Some of the requirements of this task are not ideal for me. During my 16 years of business ownership, I outsourced all of my financials to staff or 3rd party services.  I’m not confident in my own abilities to do a proper job as required by the document [you attached]. I appreciate you asking me to help. There is no way you would have known that I hate financial numbers, and always rely on others for that part of my business.
I apologize, but I must decline, in interest of the [group redacted].
Please keep me in mind for future needs. – Matt


So….heavy weight lifted from my chest immediately. I felt good that I communicated to my contact that I appreciated their reaching out to me, I declined, I told them why I declined, and I made it clear that I’m happy to help in other ways.  I can’t tell you the relief I felt when I sent my message back to my contact. Part of me felt like I let them down by not helping, but I knew it was still the right move for the group as a whole. To be clear you don’t want me checking your financials!  🙂

Within moments I got an email back from my contact, here’s what they wrote:

Not a problem at all, Matt. I am grateful for everything that you do for the [group redacted].
Please know that I reached out to you first because of my admiration and trust of you.
And I completely understand where you are coming from — I actually really respect the fact that you are being upfront about what works for you and what doesn’t work for you.
No worries at all. There are other members that I can reach out to.
Thank you! [contact name redacted]

Folks, this is exactly what you want with the contacts in your circle. You want contacts that will reach out for many different things!  You want contacts that choose you first over others because they have admiration and trust! If you establish respect for others, trust for others and admiration for others, they will feel that for you.  You also want contacts that respect your decisions regardless of what they are and how you came to them, and you want them to communicate that respect to you!

Specifically with this contact, I believe that the trust level I have with them has just increased dramatically.  Do you agree?

Just imagine if you could build these types of relationships with your contacts.  Just imagine how many more word of mouth referrals you would get from contacts that have admiration and trust for you!

That’s exactly what I help people do when I give speeches at associations and conferences. I also help people gain deeper relationships with their contacts through a monthly program called Master Your Referrals, as well as personal consulting.  You can apply online right now for my program or consulting, or you can contact me for speeches or questions.