Hi All,

I need some advice on a matter that pertains to business social networking. In the middle of a very very frustrating interpersonal situation and am trying to figure out how to proceed - and if I have any options.

So I began my career many years ago in a specific industry, as an executive, in the arena of project development, with an eye on eventual management. For various personal reasons I then took about 15 years off, working at something unrelated while pursuing freelance gigs on the side. About two years ago I decided to re-enter my original field full time. I am in my 30s now.

So about 2 years ago, via the introduction of a mutual acquaintance, I e-met this woman who is in the business field I want to enter in a managerial capacity, and I began doing paid freelance project consulting for her - with extremely positive results. She's based in a city about 5 hours away from me. She indicated almost immediately that she loved my work, and the assignments have kept coming.

Finally I was so encouraged by our freelance relationship that I approached her a year ago and said, I want to develop content with you and co-manage something together, not merely act as a consultant. She said, great, I love our working relationship and feel we are on the exact same wavelength. Let's see what you have in mind. I met in person with her and a member of her staff last September, and discussed prospective projects with them. Several initiatives were declined for various reasons. They loved my ideas but didn't feel they were right for their particular company but they strongly encouraged me to think of alternate options. The freelance work continued.

Then in January I found a project with a major public figure involved - an author. I wrote him a letter and secured his involvement on the basis of my relationship with these guys. But the endeavor is such that I would need this company I'm talking about to commit a nominal investment (less than $3000) in order to proceed. I emailed them right away, got an answer in 5 minutes. Set up a call. Told this woman the whole idea along with the person's name. She responded favorably but said she would need to give it a more in-depth look. Then forwarded them a message from the author, again got a positive response. That was in early January. Then - no additional communication. Promises to have phone meetings have yielded nothing. Emails have yielded nothing except for an occasional apology from her because they are very busy. At one point, I said "Do you want me to write you a formal summary" and she said yes, so I wrote one over a couple of weeks with a detailed strategy attached. And sent it to them. Nothing, aside from a confirmation of receipt. And more apologies.

I know for a fact that they are indeed busy - they've just had a major staff turnover and have had several projects commissioned. I know this person loves my freelance work and mindset/creative intuition - she keeps sending consulting work my way and I'm getting paid! But I'm getting extremely frustrated and my patience is running out. I have OTHER projects they might be interested in, but I can't even get them on the phone to discuss. According to everything I've seen and heard they are very successful.

What should I do? Dismiss them as a partner and move on? Find someone else? Obviously I don't want to burn bridges. And I still relish the freelance relationship and value being paid. I like them interpersonally and they seem to like me. But this is frustrating and upsetting. I do have other networking relationships and potential projects - it isn't as if all my eggs are in one basket.

I would appreciate any insights people might have

Warmest
Harry
 

djbaxter

Administrator
I know for a fact that they are indeed busy - they've just had a major staff turnover and have had several projects commissioned. I know this person loves my freelance work and mindset/creative intuition - she keeps sending consulting work my way and I'm getting paid! But I'm getting extremely frustrated and my patience is running out. I have OTHER projects they might be interested in, but I can't even get them on the phone to discuss. According to everything I've seen and heard they are very successful.

What should I do? Dismiss them as a partner and move on? Find someone else? Obviously I don't want to burn bridges. And I still relish the freelance relationship and value being paid. I like them interpersonally and they seem to like me. But this is frustrating and upsetting. I do have other networking relationships and potential projects - it isn't as if all my eggs are in one basket.

If they have responded favorably, keep sending projects your way, but aren't responding to your project, it seems to me there are two likely possibilities:
  1. they aren't actually interested in your project but don't want to tell you that for fear of harming your current freelance relationship with them; or
  2. the timing is simply wrong for them with everything else they have going on.
I suspect the second of these is more likely, but in either case you should probably consider these options:
  • wait for this company to resolve all the other issues currently demanding their attention and proceed with other projects in the meantime
  • talk to the author about the requirement for this company, explaining that the company is focused on more pressing issues at the moment and that while they have expressed interest they don't seem to have the time right now to move forward on this project - see what the author says about finding another partner with more time
  • find another partner and then approach the author with your suggested alternative
  • forget about the project and move on with your other projects
That's not necessarily an exclusive list. Just what comes to me immediately.
 
If they have responded favorably, keep sending projects your way, but aren't responding to your project, it seems to me there are two likely possibilities:
  1. they aren't actually interested in your project but don't want to tell you that for fear of harming your current freelance relationship with them; or
  2. the timing is simply wrong for them with everything else they have going on.
I suspect the second of these is more likely, but in either case you should probably consider these options:
  • wait for this company to resolve all the other issues currently demanding their attention and proceed with other projects in the meantime
  • talk to the author about the requirement for this company, explaining that the company is focused on more pressing issues at the moment and that while they have expressed interest they don't seem to have the time right now to move forward on this project - see what the author says about finding another partner with more time
  • find another partner and then approach the author with your suggested alternative
  • forget about the project and move on with your other projects
That's not necessarily an exclusive list. Just what comes to me immediately.


Hi There.

Thanks very much for taking the time to write me and providing such helpful and incisive insights. I sincerely appreciate it.

My read on the situation is indeed closest to the second interpretation you mentioned. One additional factor is that the woman in question is nothing if not forthright. In the past when I have taken them something they didn't like, it was "This is not right for us, sorry" or even "I don't care for that idea, sorry about that." Refreshing candor. So I think this is more a question of timing.

One of the other factors too is that a collaborator we may very well need to get this aloft is in her network but not my own. And she knows that. So this company would make the most sense as a partner. I'm not saying there aren't others but this is the first one that comes to mind. If I went with someone else, the etiquette of this industry suggests that I would need to get a no from them first - ethically not legally.

At the moment I'm mostly trying to figure out how to follow up properly... And if it makes the most sense to drop it for now, or at least attempt to elicit an answer from them. A friend who has worked as a biz coach thinks that I should actually give them a heads up (her and her assistant), via email, that I now plan to message them a couple of times a week until we can set up a call. Is this harassing? He said it might not hurt to be a little more persistent in this case. As long as I am being polite and gracious, which I would, of course.

Harry
 

djbaxter

Administrator
I would see that suggestion as harassing and annoying to be honest.

For me, periodic reminders are appreciated and I often specifically request them, e.g., "If you don't hear back from me in {3 days, a week, 2 weeks}, please remind me". But if I were getting unrequested emails twice a week, I'd likely get annoyed and start sending them to spam.

How often have you've been sending reminders so far?
 
Roughly once per week.

Here is the message i am thinking of sending tomorrow night. Too much?

"Hi Roxane and Julia,

thanks very much for sending the freelance assignments along. happy to do these and grateful for them. I so appreciate the work and your willingness to keep me in mind.

One quick thought about our joint efforts.

I don't want to overburden you given your slate, in fact I want to be conscientious about how much I'm reaching out to you. But I would like to start normally checking with you via email a couple of times a week to see how your schedule looks, at least until we can get a call set up. just to stay on point, and avoid getting lost in the shuffle. Let me know if that's a problem.

thanks
H."
 

djbaxter

Administrator
Given what you've said about the company's workload currently, I would strongly advise against sending that email. Moreover, I think once a week is too frequent given their circumstances. I would recommend you knock it down to just once a month for reminders about the project.

If it were me, you might already be in my Spam box.
 
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