Several CLC Community members have asked me to address the painful topic of rejection in Networking. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a salesperson, a service professional, a person in career transition or someone just looking to get more involved in your community, we’ve all felt the sting of rejection and it hurts. You may wonder to yourself what you did wrong… what you could have done differently to try to win their friendship or approval… the voices in your head scream blame, blame, BLAME. STOP!
Rejection – or perceived rejection – is something we have all faced in the past and will, no doubt, need to address in the future. Here are a few tips for dealing with it the next time it rears its ugly head in your life:
- Don’t take it personally. Truthfully, it’s not you… it’s them! Everyone is busy and you should not assume it is you they are avoiding, but rather they have a million other things going on that is dominating their attention.
- Try again. If your first interaction didn’t go exactly as planned, or, if your contact ignored you altogether, it’s okay to call for a do-over. Perhaps you caught them at the wrong time… they may not have been saying a definitive, “no,” but possibly a “not right now.” It’s perfectly acceptable to reach out once more and then gauge the reaction. (See my post from last year, “The Third Message,” for some guidance on leaving multiple voice messages.)
- Laugh. Sometimes laughter really is the best medicine. Thinking back to my senior year in college, my friends and I were all looking for jobs or graduate schools in anticipation of graduation. It was a grueling process. So many of us were down and depressed, struggling to land opportunities that seemed so perfect on paper. Contrary to the doom and gloom we were all feeling, my friend, Sharon, demonstrated a winning attitude through the use of humor. With every “rejection letter” she received – mostly from organizations that had never even met her in person – she “celebrated” by pinning it up on her “wall of shame,” displayed in the hallway of our house for everyone to see. Her mindset: If they don’t want me, I don’t want them either! She did find a great opportunity and it all worked out well – and, with a little laughter, she helped us all get through a challenging period in our lives. (Here’s another hilarious response to rejection letters I found on a blog… it’s worth a look!)
- Don’t become defensive. An angry, defensive response to the brush off is never a successful approach – it leaves no room for relationship building later. Simply say, “thank you,” and refocus your efforts on a more promising prospect.
- Move on. Let’s say you’re at a Networking reception. You approach someone in hopes of striking up a conversation. You ask good questions. You get nothing back. You try again. Same blank stare and one-word answers. Turns out, this is probably not the right Connection for you. Look around; there are many other people eager to get to know you. As my brilliant momma, Charlene, would say: Some Will, Some Won’t, So What, Next! Onward….