The term "ghosting", which first gained popularity in the world of dating and now applies to relations of all kinds, refers to the sudden disappearance of one person from a budding relationship with no explanation. Most commonly, you'd get ghosted by someone after a few dates, you know, when you think things are going well and it just doesn't make sense because he invited you to his beach house for July 4th and then stopped texting you and all your friends tell you to move on and he isn't worth it... whatever.
As it turns out, ghosting isn't primarily for hopeful romantics anymore. It can really be done in any relationship, at any time. All you have to do is simply remove yourself from a relationship like a thief in the night. You can ghost your friends. You can ghost your family. You can even ghost your job if you're so inclined.
Personal relationships aside, what happens when this pesky human avoidance tactic finds its way into your professional life? Say you've been wooing a client and all signs point to doing business with them and then just before you're about to start signing papers, suddenly... POOF. They're not answering your calls. They're not returning your calls. Your inbox is empty and you're scratching your head.
What could have happened? Everything seemed great. Your first instinct is to wonder what YOU did wrong. Naturally, you're going to take it personally. Just like when you've had two great dates with Paul from Ocean Beach he says he's going to call you and then he peaces out like an apparition in an episode of Scooby Doo.
Here are a few steps to take if you think a potential client (or Paul) is ghosting you.
Before you downward spiral into self-loathing, retrace your steps. Maybe there was some miscommunication. Maybe you mistook your client's politeness as interest. Maybe you haven't read the signs properly. MAYBE.
TAP, TAP. IS THIS THING ON?
In potential business relationships, following up is always KEY to being with. In the case that you've already reached out with your standard follow up and didn't hear back, it's okay to follow up again, but this time, express genuine concern at not hearing back. Do they have questions they need to ask? Is there anything you can help with? Is everything OK? It's also alright to politely explain that you had expected for there to be further contact based on previous interactions.
If you don't hear back after that, take it as an opportunity to reach out one last time to share any new and potentially exciting news about your company or your services. Add that you're happy to offer your continued availability to your potential client regardless of whether or not you hear back from them.
KEEP IT MOVING
Don't lose so much time wondering what went wrong that you begin missing out on other opportunities. Chalk the lack of communication up to someone who has a hard time telling someone NO and who will avoid it even at the risk of being unprofessional. Don't second guess yourself if your selling strategies have been working and your relationships with other clients are genuine. Truly, it's not you, it's the ghost-er. That's definitely the case with Paul from Ocean Beach.
It's not easy to swallow your pride in these circumstances, but the best action is to always react graciously and professionally. You never want to react in a way that would perpetuate or even justify the client's lack of response. The best advice is to stay focused on the clients who are responsive and move on with grace.