Have you ever been “Ghosted?” No, we don’t mean at Halloween when a child dressed as a ghost appears at your door. We mean, as described in Wikipedia:
“Ghosting, also known as simmering or icing, is a colloquial term which describes the practice of ending all communication and contact with another person without any apparent warning or justification and subsequently ignoring any attempts to reach out or communication made by said person.”
“Can you believe it, Janet ghosted me?”
Early on, we recognized “ghosting” as the term used by those in a dating scenario where one person stops communicating with the other without any reason. When the ghosted person attempts to reach the “ghost,” there is complete silence.
It can be frustrating as there is no explanation and, hence, no way to know what went “wrong” in the relationship. It can lead to a myriad of not-so-good emotions, and when it comes to matters of the heart, it’s a known fact that some can react/act negatively.
Today ghosting also applies to multiple situations, and as you guessed, it is frustrating and emotion-filled.
We’re familiar with how it applies in personal relationships, primarily when dating. But it often happens in business too. Say you met a potential client (let’s call him Jack) at a networking event where the conversation flowed, and you felt a strong connection? You each made a promise to meet for coffee to talk further and even exchanged contact information.
A day or so later, as promised, you send Jack an email reminding him of your conversation along with proposed dates/times to meet. Two days later, no response. Four days later, no response. You think, “Wow, Jack must be really busy as I know he was super interested in potentially offering my products to his clients.” You forward the email you sent earlier with a message that reads something like, “Hello, Jack, I want to make sure you saw the email I sent last week with options for us to meet. I enjoyed talking with you at the event and would love to continue our conversation.”
Crickets. No response. And because you have a marketing tool that allows you to see who opens your emails, you know that Jack read both of your emails, or at least opened them.
Did you do something wrong? You reread the two emails to make sure you didn’t misspell something or word a sentence poorly. When you left the event, you were both jovial, and all seemed well, with expectations to meet in the future.
In business, this behavior is also called “ghosting” and can cause many different emotions: frustration, annoyance, and reduction in confidence.
Before you make any drastic moves, such as stalking or an influx of phone calls, consider that there could be other reasons. Perhaps Jack is out of town or up to his eyeballs in work. Give it a bit more time before initiating additional follow-up, and try not to take it personally. If some time has passed, this is an excellent time to make a phone call as it could be that email is not their communication mode of choice.
You could also reach out to invite him to connect on LinkedIn – make sure to include a BRIEF personal note with your connection request. No sales, just a quick reminder of how/when you met.
Speaking of LinkedIn, if that person is active on the platform, there are other ways to connect more organically.
Did Jack recently write an article or comment on a post in a group where you both belong? Write something back to say something like, “Your article inspired me to…” or, “I couldn’t agree more with your comment.”
Of course, if you disagree, don’t lie to get attention. You can say something like, “Your article has allowed me to see a different perspective.”
If they still aren’t responsive, you can keep them in your database but stop bombarding them with messages. Not everyone is a good communicator. If Jack is not interested, he could, and should, have simply responded something to the effect of, “I appreciate your email, but at this time, I realize I’m not able to use your products right now.” Or, “I would love to get together in the future, but right now, my schedule is extremely tight. Could you reach out to me in…”
Or, better yet, when you were face-to-face, he most likely knew he did not want/need your services. He could have saved everyone a lot of time and frustration by saying something like, “I think your product sounds great, but it’s not something I feel I would benefit from right now.” If said correctly, there shouldn’t be any hurt feelings.
How we communicate is sometimes a tricky thing. If someone is not responsive, and you’ve done your best to reach out to follow up, then perhaps it just wasn’t meant to be. Don’t take it personally and move on.