By Amanda Smyth Connor
Let’s say you check your inbox and find that you have a query from a new client for writing services. Squee!
You set up a meeting, prepare for said meeting and go into it with enthusiasm. But what’s this? You have a sinking feeling about this client? Does the situation not feel right? Is your gut telling you that this is a bigger/tougher project that you can/want to take on? Does the client have needs that lie outside of what you normally deliver? If so, it’s easier to walk away right from the get-go than to stay onboard until it’s too late.
I interview every potential client as thoroughly as they interview me. Don’t forget that this is a 2-way street! Far too many times I’ve let myself get caught up in an assignment that was over my head or far too complicated/time consuming than I could handle. Had I not nipped these assignments in the bud as early as possible, it could have meant terrible things for my reputation as a writer. The world is a smaller place than you think and word of mouth travels quickly. It is better to cut out one ill-fitting client early on than to risk not getting hired in the future because you couldn’t complete an assignment.
How does one politely cut and run? Have several form responses ready to go, and if possible, reach out to other writers who may be a better fit to see if they would like to be recommended for this job.
For example, here is my polite “cut-and-run response”: Dear Client. Thank you for meeting with me. Your project sounds wonderful. While I would be honored to take on this assignment, my concern is that I may not be the best fit for your project. However, I do have a wonderful colleague by the name of “Colleague” who is available and has extensive experience with projects like the one we discussed. I would be more than happy to send Colleague your information if you are interested in speaking with them further.
I do apologize for not being able to move forward with your assignment, but I wish you all the best and please keep me in mind for future services. Until then, if I can be of any assistance at all, please don’t hesitate to ask.
All the best, Amanda Smyth Connor
Do you have a plan of action for a cut-and-run that won’t insult a potential client? If so, please share with the group.
Amanda Smyth Connor is a social media manager for a major publishing company, owns her own wedding planning business, and has managed online communities and content development for many start-up and Fortune 500 companies. She has been a professional editor for more years than she can remember.