I don’t know anyone who asks a question or makes a request just to be told “No”. There’s nothing positive about being told you can’t do something, have something or be a part of something so it makes sense to me that people shy away from asking important questions or put themselves out there. We don’t want to be shot down and rejected.
Five years ago, I was very hesitant to ask for clients. By asking I mean I didn’t do a lot of querying or applying for writing work. Instead I inserted myself into conversations and situations where I could market myself without being obvious about it. The goal or hope was that someone would hire me based on the conversations we’d had and the relationship that I’d built and the other person would feel like the idea to contract with me was their idea.
Not bad, right? In a very bare bones way, that’s how relationship marketing works. You build the relationship and the work comes. Of course it’s never a good idea to rely soley on that kind of marketing tactic but I was lucky enough that the relationships turned into word of mouth marketing. People knew me or knew of me and would contact me.
It wasn’t until I returned to a full time gig did I begin to lose my foothold in the writing communities I’d belonged to. I was able to keep up with current contracts and I managed to wrangle a couple of social media clients using my relationship building technique but now that my taxes are done and I’m looking at 2012’s business loss – It’s time I revved up the engine and got back to marketing myself.
Since it’s the writing that I want to focus on more than I have in the last two years, I have had to get over my fear of the No. As a parent, I’m very comfortable saying no (most of the time) and even in my full time gig when I have to turn down the media outlets that want us to advertise with them, saying “No” doesn’t bother me. But then again, that’s probably because I’m not on the receiving end of it. My full time gig has definitely helped me work through my fears of no by keeping in mind three key things:
It’s not personal – Being rejected is hard and it often feels like a personal attack. Especially when YOU feel you can do the job. But business is business. It doesn’t mean you’re horrible. It simply means it’s not a good fit.
No doesn’t mean Never – Similar to try, try again; being told No does not mean that you’ll never be told yes. This is why many editors and other writers adamantly suggest you pitch again after a rejection. Maybe the topic wasn’t right, maybe they didn’t need those services. But maybe next time they’ll need you in a different way or your pitch is a must have. Keep trying and keep pitching.
No can lead to a bigger and better Yes – Sometimes it is better to just walk away and knock on another door. I firmly believe that when someone tells you No, it means that something better is on the horizon. I believe this is true when you have to turn someone else down. It’s the Universe telling you this isn’t right – but something else will be.
Whenever I get turned down for a project or a pitch comes back with a rejection, I remind myself of all the Nos that have turned into Yeses and all of the rejections that have lead to something better. It makes getting to Yes, that much sweeter.
image via AdamRice on Flickr