When being interviewed for new client work, inevitably there’s a period of courting that entails a bit of flattery and flirting. You meet, you chat, you send a few messages back and forth to show interest. Although there are those who will choose someone else (which is totally fine), there are others who continue to play the courting game even if they have no intention of working with you.
Without realizing it, you play this game, a back-and-forth that lasts months (if not years), while you spend time and resources replying to their requests (updates, proposals, ideas, etc.) – all for nothing.
This is not a case of having an open RFP (i.e. request for proposal): think of it of a real-life dating show, which asks suitors to submit their proposals, they are reviewed, then the list is whittled down to a small group of finalists, ending with the selection of a “winner” and a signed contract (a wedding is not required).
This isn’t that. These individuals just want the attention, nothing more.
If you’re not interested, it’s best to say it so both parties can move onto the next one. It’s the grown-up and mature thing – not to mention respectful – to do.