Should freelancers chase up client leads?

If you’re a freelancer, should you chase up your ‘cold call’ emails to client leads?

Here I mean your letters of enquiry, letters of introduction, or what many US freelance writers refer as LOIs.

Well, for the first three years of the 15 years I’ve freelanced, I did.

I chased up on every quote I sent out.

I e-mailed, called, sometimes even texted – because I felt I deserved some feedback. Or, at the very least, to know that the client leads had decided not to go with my cost estimates.

But, for the last 12 years, I’ve backed off. I send the quote… and that’s that. If they want me to do the work, they’ll let me know. Eventually. And hopefully I’ll still be available to assist.

Here’s what Peter Bregman says:

Peter Bregman’s 2010 article, ‘When Your Voicemails and Emails Go Unanswered, What Should You Do?‘, says the following:

“Follow up once, after the meeting, and the moment you send that follow up — not a week later but as soon as you hit send or hang up the phone — assume they’re not interested. They’ve said “no.” Close the book. Take the follow up off your to do list. Move on to the next thing. If they do call or email back, it will be a nice surprise and you can discuss how to proceed. If they don’t reach out, you haven’t stalled in your other work, knocked your head into a brick wall, or wasted any energy stressing about it. You can always send other information unrelated to the open issue — articles, updates, referrals — that might be of interest and deepen the relationship. But don’t follow up on the open issue.” – Harvard Business Review

Now, what should you do?

It depends. How busy are you? How much demand is there? Because, for many freelancers, the above is an entirely new and uncomfortable way of doing things.

For me, there’s a lot of power in making the move, confirming receipt once and once only and then taking that big step back, so that you can focus totally on what you’re currently busy with.

What do you think?

Join the discussion One Comment

  • Hi Tiffany

    Glad you liked the column. It’s been interesting seeing different opinions from freelancers on the topic on the Freelancentral Facebook page. (I’m going to point them to this post right now 🙂

    Your final comment really strikes home for me though – yes, this is a deeply uncomfortable thing to do and for that reason alone is worth the “experiment”. This reminded me that when you get out of your comfort zone, you open the door for all sorts of exciting things to unfold. And worst case scenario … you can always go back to the old way of doing things.

    Cheers, Vanessa

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