How Entrepreneurs Can Cope With Rejection Online
Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox
There’s really no other way to phrase this: Being rejected stinks. Whether you're turned down for a date or a business prospect nixes an idea for a project, rejection can be crushing. Unfortunately, it’s part of life.
At some point in your entrepreneurial career, you will be rejected in a public online forum. And it’s going to sting. But here’s some excellent news for you, the resilient entrepreneur. Rejection can also spark inspiration.
According to research released in 2012 by Johns Hopkins University, people can pivot from rejection to imaginative thinking. Lead researcher Sharon Kim said, “Rejection confirms for independent people what they already feel about themselves -- that they're not like others."
Added Kim: "For such people, that distinction is a positive one leading them to greater creativity.”
Perhaps entrepreneurs are among this group of resilient people. That still doesn’t mean that rejection is desirable or easy to handle. Dedicating so much time and resources to a company's brand and product only to encounter rejection can be a major blow. But recovering from rejection may not be as difficult as one might think. Here are some suggestions:
Related: How to Combat Your Fear of Rejection
1. Figure out the reason for the rejection. First identify what went wrong: Did you devote too much time to spreading your message on the wrong social media platform? Just because Pinterest is hot right now doesn’t mean that your client (a law firm) will attract users on that channel. LinkedIn might be more appropriate.
Or perhaps you tried to establish your authority as a guest blogger. You wrote a killer article only to realize that it wasn’t accepted by a certain prestigious website. Several factors could explain the rejection. They could be small issues (grammatical errors or not using the right keyword phrases). Or maybe you did not back your claims up with reliable sources.
Another scenario is that your article was approved and published only to have people publicly question -- online -- your status as an industry leader. Indeed if you are new to the business world, people in your industry might have trouble trusting a newbie. This is why you need plenty of sources to back up your claims. (And don't forget to note prior relevant experience even if it is minor.)
As you continue to launch businesses or work online, hopefully you will build up a track record and eventually earn the respect of your peers.
Before jumping to conclusions and having a meltdown, take a deep breath and retrace your steps. It may turn that the rejection resulted from a slight mistake or misunderstanding. Even if you were at fault, after thinking things through, you'll know what to do differently the next time.
2. Know that haters are going to hate. When creating online content, you have to have thick skin. Whether you’re dealing with trolls or people who need to correct or question every single word you type, you can’t please everyone. If you get upset at every negative comment, you’re not going to last very long.
While some comments may bring a mistake to your attention (extremely helpful), others people just want to cause trouble or try to prove that they are superior to you. Don’t lose any sleep over such cranks or sink to their level. That’s just how the online world works. Everyone has a voice and an opinion. Accept it and don’t take it personally.
3. Be persistent and positive. As an entrepreneur you would never give up, no matter how challenging the situation becomes. The same goes for being rejected online (whether before or after you post something). That’s just a part of life: You’re going to get rejected. Actually, you may be rejected several times. But that doesn’t mean that you should completely give up.
Instead of crawling into a hole, rise up and keep pressing on. Learn from this rejection and make the proper adjustments to break through the next time around. In the words of the legendary Willie Nelson, “Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you'll start having positive results.”
4. Continue to network. Several reasons may account for the initial rejection of an inquiry online. Business psychologist and small business coach Debra Condren advises, "If you've been rejected, it doesn't necessarily mean this person will never be your client." Instead she suggests, "Keep the conversation going."
The timing may have been wrong the first time around. Be persistent, generate content and offer newsletters for email subscribers and interact with your audience. And maybe over time these people could offer you advice or become loyal customers.
5. Reflect on your accomplishments and achievements. For every failure of a foray online, you’re going to have at least a taste of success. Instead of harping on the rejections, celebrate the winning moments.
Write down or think about the best things that you achieved throughout the day. Some advise doing so prior to falling asleep. When you jot down all the things that you’re proud of on a daily basis, you may notice that the success stories are more common than your failures.
Have you ever experienced rejection online? What did you do to overcome it?