Your success depends on withstanding rare but nasty rejection
Here’s something you might not know about my work as a writer: 30-40% of my time is spent asking people if I can write for them, while the remaining 60-70% is spent on actually writing.
In other words, I’m either a writer who knows how to sell or a salesman who knows how to write. Consequently, I would’t have survived the past 15 years if I hadn’t asked thousands of people each year to let me write for them. I would have wilted long ago had I listened to the few rouge naysayers that rudely tell me to get lost sometimes.
Case in point: of the hundreds of emails I send on a monthly basis, the vast majority are ignored. From there I send three to four follow up emails about a week or two apart. About a dozen of those respond and say they don’t have any work for me, often adding words of encouragement. A few others say, “Yes,” which is exciting and life-giving. On rare occasions, fewer people ask me not to contact them again, which I honor. On even rarer occasions, I get an emotionally negative and rude email. I might get one or two of those per year.
For example, several years ago, one man flew off the handle after I sent my fourth and final email. “YOU SHOULD HAVE KNOWN I WASN’T INTERESTED WHEN I DIDN’T RESPOND TO YOUR FIRST THREE EMAILS,” he yelled in all caps. “I WOULD NEVER USE SOMEONE AS UNPROFESSIONAL AS YOU. DON’T EVER CONTACT ME AGAIN.”
Of course this rattled me, even though I don’t encounter it often. But I quietly archived his email and assured myself that rejection, sometimes even harsh rejection, is part of living and certainly part of working. I reminded myself that if I wrongly believed this man, namely that I should have inferred from his silence that he wasn’t interested, I wouldn’t be in business.
Let me give you another example that happens far more often than the above. Often times after the fourth and final email, people literally thank me for my persistence and tenacity and offer to work with me. Earlier this year, I man I had tried to sell several times through several different series of 4-5 emails, finally replied after dozens of unanswered emails over the last three years. “Blake! We’re finally ready to work with you,” he enthusiastically wrote for the first time.
Since then, his company has become one of my largest accounts so far this year, all because I stuck with it, DIDN’T accept his silence as rejection, and periodically stayed in touch with him so I could strike when the fire was hot.
I recently shared the above two stories with my daughters to remind them not to give in to naysayers that are probably just having a bad day, month, or life. If you want your passion to succeed in life, you must relentlessly pursue it. No one will do this for you. And you mustn’t let rare rejection or meaneness deter you. My experience as a full-time freelance of 15 years proves this.
So please, for the sake of humanity and your talent, never give up. Don’t quit until everyone in the room tells you “no.”