Rejection 101: Dishing it Out, Taking it, And Dealing With It.
No matter what business you're in you're going to have to deal with rejection. Whether you are dishing it out, taking it, or trying to handle the emotional struggles rejection brings with it; just remember you are not alone.
It is rejection that allows us to learn and grow. Think of the last time you were rejected, perhaps it was from a client or a job, yeah it bummed you out for a minute but maybe it led to something bigger and brighter in the end.
Here are the 3 types of rejection we face on a daily basis as a small business owner:
Dishing It Out
No matter what business you're in at some point you're going to have to reject someone. Whether it's a client who wants to request a date that you're already booked, a person applying to work for you, or even someone who wants an order that just can't be completed. One way or another you're going to have to tell this person no.
Here are our guidelines on Dishing It Out.
Thank them. Always thank the client for reaching out. Most of the time we are thankful they reached out and wanted our services and in reality we're a little sad we can't work for everyone. I find that giving an explanation on why you can't work for them is always helpful. Being on the other side of rejection I find that an explanations always helps me rationalize and accept it the rejection quicker.
Offer an alternative. Perhaps you can't help them on that particular date or create that custom order, but can you offer an alternative or referral? Giving the client another option shows that you aren't dismissing them and that you genuinely care about their experience. I also find that clients have respect and admiration when you go out of your way to help them even when you won't be working for them. This is also a great time to use those connections you have with other small business owners in the field to give them an opportunity to shine.
End with a "If there's anything else I can help you with now or in the future." You've already gone the extra mile to make sure they will be taken care of but remind them you're still here for them. Perhaps they will still refer you to friends or family due to your courteous personality. No matter what you never want to leave a negative impression even if they client isn't booking with you.
Just like dishing it out, you've probably received rejection at some point in your life and it stings. You have a million questions - "What did I do wrong?" "What did they not like about me?" "Am I terrible at what I do."
For that we say: breathe and decompress. Rejection always brings the worst of our insecurities to the surface and we have to remind ourselves that there are a million reasons someone may not book with you. If you're in a market like wedding photography I know there are a million other photographers in the area, a handful with a similar style, and that price is ALWAYS a factor. The longer I've been in the industry the less it stings to never hear back from an inquiry, or lose a job to another photographer.
The client/business owner relationship is an odd one and not everyone fits together. I've sometimes lucked out by not booking a client who turned out to be a nightmare for someone else. Or opening a date for an even better and more interesting couple/wedding. You just gotta believe it all happens for a reason and that reason is to better yourself and your career.
Dealing With It
As I mentioned a little in the segment above, rejection can bring the worst out in us. But the hardest part is to not let that rejection eat away at you, especially when you're a new business owner. I spent so many nights crying with Joanna about why I lost this client or that wedding and you know what - it didn't help me. I didn't feel better, or do anything productive, I wallowed and lost valuable time I could have been marketing or creating new relationships.
Try to take each rejection in stride and let it motivate you to work harder and more effectively. I started tailoring my marketing to my target audience and now I don't mind losing clients, especially if they aren't in the demographic I'm looking for. That's not to say I'm not thrilled to have clients who also aren't in my main demographic but I refuse to lose sleep over lost clients anymore.
Find a productive way to deal with that rejection and remember a client is waiting for you - whether tomorrow or next week, or in a few months from now, you're going to get a client who only wants you and it's going to feel really really good. So focus on those clients and your strengths and rejection will be a breeze.
If you're still dealing with rejection or want to let us know tactics that worked for you please comment below. We'd love to hear how you've perservered.