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Am I Spooking My Clients? Compiled and edited by Julie Tereshchuk Dear Mentors, I’d heard my freelance friends talk about clients ghosting, but I never thought it would happen to me. Now, I’ve had two potential clients go silent in the past three months. Both business owners contacted me first. Both described (in great detail) work that sounded like a great match. Both asked for my contract and a start date.  And then the calls and emails trickled to a stop. Help me, Mentors! Is there something I’m doing to spook these clients or does ghosting just go with the territory? Yours, About to Give Up the Ghost Dear About to Give Up the Ghost, In this era of scant civility, basic manners are needed – now more than ever – both professionally and personally. Unfortunately, it may be up to some of us still practicing them to teach others who are less fortunate or lacking in this area for whatever reason. “Ghosting” is not acceptable in any relationship, professional or personal. Still, it does repeatedly happen in my business (and personal life, but that’s for a very different column!) However, since you went to the trouble and spent valuable hours responding to both of these potential clients’ requests for information, providing them each with a proposal or contract (especially a contract!), and followed-up for feedback in a timely manner, you also deserve a timely and thoughtful response. Even if it may include some face-saving self-deception on the part of those potential clients who may have run out of money or budget or time, simply just changed their minds, decided to hire someone else or who just don’t have the sense to get back to you. I recommend the following: 1.) Find out if there is anyone else in their firm who can let you know their whereabouts (or who can give you an answer) as it is quite possible the contact may have had a business, family or personal matter that sent them away. Tell that new person you are just trying to wrap-up new business leads for the current quarter and need to know if you should put them on “hold” for next quarter (or year) or if they are a definite “no.” If the person you reach is uncertain, ask if you can follow-up with either of them next quarter (in one-to-three months) if possible. You never know if they may need your services again in the future or if your follow-up timing may be advantageous! 2.) Just let things go and chalk this up to a valuable lesson. For the future, have no more than TWO 30-minute in-person or phone conversations before submitting a proposal or contract, depending on your fee structure. Since Austin (and many big cities) are still ‘small towns’ in many ways, especially in the professional worlds and industries many of us frequent, it is in everyone’s best interest to be as honest and polite as humanly possible. You never know if the person you met with might be interviewing you one day for an even bigger job, or you may run into them at a networking event or you might even hire them or need their services or a favor one day! Either way, each should have acknowledged and thanked you for your time and proposal or contract in a timely manner, no matter their circumstances or decision. Yours, Mary Anne Connolly
Julie Tereshchuk