As a service professionals, we are challenged to provide proof of our expertise. We do that through articles, blogs, free consultations and speaking engagements. All of these exercises help us build our personal brand reputation as an expert in our field.
However, Drew McLellan has struck a nerve in his post Why Do We Keep Giving Away the Milk? How much free advice is too much?
Getting paid for our services is why we’re in business. But all consultants, coaches, mentors and pretty much most service professionals get drawn into the “hey can I run one by you over coffee” conversation time and time again.
And that’s OK … to a point! I like coffee as much as the next person, but it does not pay the bills.
Of course, there are exceptions – a person who gives you great referrals, collaborates and helps you.
As you can see, there is really no black and white answer to this dilemma. Take a hard nose approach and it could hurt your business. Give away too much information and it could hurt your business!
I’m certainly not going to repeat the advice being given on Drew’s post at the MPDaily Fix so head on over and join the discussion, but here’s my view:
- I give advice to most who ask. My belief is that most aren’t out to pick our brains dry. If they are, they should be easy to notice as they most likely have gained that type of reputation anyway. I usually sit down with someone one to one, discuss their situation and offer advice. You see, if that person knows as much as you do about what you do (in my case marketing), then they will never hire you anyway. If they truly have a need, your discussion will lead them to the next step where they will hire you.
- I never provide implementation details as part of the discussion. Ideas can be found everywhere on the Internet. But how to implement the idea is really what you get paid for. Keep the conversation on ideas and you should be OK. If you find yourself getting into how to implement the solution, then you’ve gone too far.
It never is easy to know when enough is enough. We all have a lot to do to work on and in our businesses so it will grow.
As those looking for advice, be considerate of those you are asking. If someone is that good that you keep going to them for advice, try to provide a great referal. I know that if someone sends me a paying client, then all the free advice is more than worth it in my opinion!