Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Upside of Professional Rejection

Dear Mrs. Ditter: 

I've been self-employed for nearly 15 years, and like most independent contractors, sometimes I'm not busy enough and sometimes I'm too busy.

A few months ago, I wrapped up two long-term projects and now there is NOTHING on the horizon. I'm scrambling to find new clients and am starting to feel anxious, like maybe I'm doing something wrong or new clients might think I'm too old (late 40s) or--who knows? 

I'm not even sure what my question is for you. I guess I'm wondering how to keep my spirits up and not take things personally. The last rejection I got said, "Thanks for your time, but I've developed another solution and thus am set with my project management needs for now." I'm not sure why this bothered me so much, but--HELP!

Currently Between Projects

Dear CBP,

Here are my words of wisdom: First, take a deep breath and exhale completely. Do that one or two more times. Now you're ready to think, and not feel overwhelmed.

Start by making a list of the reasons why you work for yourself. I don't know about you, but my list starts like this:

1. I choose my own hours (mostly). Other than conducting in-person interviews or client phone calls, as long as I meet my deadlines, I can work any time I want to.
2. I get to work in very, very casual clothes. If not actual jammies, then jammie-adjacent some days.
3. I can take a puppy break any time I need or want to.
4. I get to be in charge of my work life and security, instead of depending on a company to keep me busy (and keep me employed).

So make your own list and sit with it for a few minutes. Try to feel grateful, even though you're really stressed out about not having any clients right now.

Next, I wonder why that email brush-off made you uncomfortable? It actually is kind of a gift, because it tells you exactly what this person, and every other person you'll approach, needs. They need a solution. 

Think about that when you set out on your next round of selling. Potential clients have problems. They need solutions. You, my friend, are that solution.

If you have a standard sales email, look at it with that "problem-solution" idea in mind. And then make sure that your problem-solving ability comes across. It's a first step to getting back to work.

Good luck! 

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