Grieving for Client Relationships

Alisa Bonsignore

I had a great client at a great company. My contact and I have worked together through three different companies, and I would follow her to the ends of the earth. We spent a fantastic 2009 working together on everything: clinical abstracts, corporate brochures, patient videos and global marketing campaigns. We knew each other well enough that we could speak frankly about money without a hint of awkwardness, and through her I got some extraordinary hands-on clinical opportunities that writers just don’t normally get.

Things started to fall apart late last year. As their corporate acquisition was finalized, more and more resources were shifted elsewhere. Her staff was let go and her budget cut. The new corporation was slow to pay invoices, claiming that they were lost in a multinational accounting shuffle (yes, every single time). Then the projects dried up altogether.

It was nobody’s fault. We just drifted apart, victims of circumstances beyond our control. I’ve found other clients to pay the bills, and I’m as busy as I want to be. But I miss it. I miss the working relationship and the stimulation of the work itself, and I wonder if I’ll ever have that kind of client again. Even if she decides to move on and lands at someplace new, will the new company be able to offer me the same amazing opportunities that I had before?

I’ve had client relationships end before, but I’ve never felt such a strong sense of loss.

Am I alone in feeling this way? Has anyone else grieved for the loss of a client relationship?

Listen to BTW: [audio:] If you could use some pointers on how to develop strong client relationships in the first place, check out “Be Your Client’s Best Friend.”