Many many years ago, I pitched to an editor, who was also a Twitter celebrity. I sent him an email and spent the entire day on his Twitter page worrying. My fear: That he will screenshot my email and out me as the stupidest person in the whole world.
If you experience even a mild variation of this, please know that as a freelancer / small business owner, this will be your life everyday. You’ll need to make pitches, send proposals, quote prices, answer questions like “why would you charge this much for something that takes so little time” and so on.
To overcome this fear, here’s what I’ve done:
Judge myself first: I make a list of all the things I would judge me for. And then, make sure I’ve presented my view clear enough that I’m not misunderstood. The rest is not in my control.
Build rapport: I insist on meeting in person, or at least talking on the phone / video conference with prospects before sending any proposal. I hate to be judged for a tone-less email.
Follow up right till the end: I’m a sucker for closure. If I’m not getting a project, I need to know. So, I have a three-silences policy. I will follow up three times when the client ghosts me. If they respond the first time, I have three more chances. I mostly get a response within that time. This way, I get closure instead of imagining the worst.
Asking for feedback: “Even if you’re not hiring us, do let me know. It’s feedback from clients like you that help us learn and grow.” — In fact, no one I’ve said this to has refused to give me feedback. Articulating their thoughts helps them re-consider their judgment.
In the end, people are going to judge. We can only make sure we’re judged for who we are.
P.S: The editor sent me a polite response that my story wasn’t right for them. 🙂