Rejection is brutal.
If you're in the creative industry like me this has probably happened to you already (or will eventually) – that awkward moment when someone who you thought was the perfect client out of nowhere emails you with the "Sorry, we're just going another direction" email and you're like "Wait, WHAT?!" It almost feels like a breakup.
When you're like me and invest a ton of emotional and physical energy into your prospective clients, it's hard not to take it personally when they choose someone else. And if you're like me, you then start to play the question game. "Did I say something that turned them away? Or maybe they just didn't like me as a person. What if my work isn't actually all that great? I'm probably a total failure...why am I even pursuing this career?" (Not kidding, it can spiral fast).
Ever been there?
It's easy to let self-doubt creep in...but in reality rejection is usually a blessing in disguise. So how should we handle clients who simply don't want our services? The answer is surprisingly simple.
FIRST OFF, GIVE THEM THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT.
Chances are, the would-be clients didn't walk away because they hated you – most often than not it has nothing to do with you or your work. They probably liked your work but simply found someone who fit their budget better. Or maybe they had a family friend who they simply couldn't refuse. Whatever it is, giving your clients the benefit of the doubt prevents you from mentally burning bridges without evidence and allows you to rekindle that relationship at a later time without bitterness.
SECONDLY, TAKE A DEEP BREATH – AND WALK AWAY.
Now, don't hear me wrong – obviously I'd love prospective clients to partner with me for their photographic needs, but I've learned the hard way that clients who don't want me are usually clients I don't want either.
Particularly in my line of work, but really in any business, everything is built on relationships. The connection I share with my clients sets the foundation for the moments we share, the memories we capture, the things we laugh about, and the level of fun we have. Clients who are on the same page as me are willing to try my crazy ideas, be adventurous on sessions, and end up with stunning photos that we all swoon over for days (seriously, I legit freak out when I finish editing an amazing session).
On the flip side, clients who don't prefer the way I work usually can't vibe with my creative process and are less likely to try some crazy idea I throw out there. I spend my time with them trying to be something I'm not, while trying to convince them to be someone they're not. And ultimately we end up with photos that neither of us like all that well.
Because authentic connection is the key to real emotion & real emotion breeds powerful results.
So the next time a client walks out your door, take a minute to question whether they left because you need to be better at your job or because they simply weren't the kind of client you were looking for. If it's the former, buckle down and work hard to make sure you the next client you get stays.
However, if it's the latter, don't beat yourself up and give them grace knowing that their rejection is actually allowing you to focus on clients who will allow you to produce the results you ultimately want.