DEAR MISS MANNERS: This is a work-manners question.
As part of my job, I attend many networking events to promote the company I work for. At a luncheon, some of the other guests and I were complaining about the abundance of mosquitoes this year. A gentleman I had met a few times before said, “We should talk about my products. We have an all-natural remedy.”
We agreed to meet for coffee. At the meeting, I quickly discovered that this was a multilevel marketing company with a pretty bad reputation.
How do I decline this offer while keeping the professional relationship? He is very involved in the same professional circles, and really is a nice man who I will have to continue seeing at a lot of these events.
GENTLE READER: Business etiquette has the advantage of not being overly sensitive to the personal feelings of colleagues because they are not supposed to be a factor in doing business. Miss Manners does not lay this down as an absolute rule, but in the case of your marketing professional, it is close enough.
Thank him for his suggestion while adding that your company is more interested in a competitor. If pressed for a reason, make use of any one of the many meaningless rejoinders in which businesses delight, such as, “They just seem a better fit.”