We’ve all read the posts about getting asked to work for free, or have our “brain picked”.
It’s not fair. It’s rude. It’s presumptive. It devalues your work, time, and professional worth.
But I’d like to offer another perspective.
Most people genuinely ask for your input because they like you, value what you have to say, or admire your work. I’d offer that the vast majority of them are asking for your input not to be rude or try and eke out something for nothing, but to get a little smarts from someone they value, perhaps when they’re feeling unsure, overwhelmed, or out of their depth.
So, next time you’re asked to do something for nothing, start there.
Start from a place of gratitude that you’ve made an impact on someone enough that they want to attach their work to your name, or get you to help them make important decisions.
Sure, there’s a self-serving jerk or two in the mix asking for something outrageous or being ungrateful while they do it. Ignore them and move on.
Yes, your time is valuable. No, you can’t make a living always working for free.
If it’s not convenient, you can always say no graciously and simply say that you’re grateful that they value your work, but you just can’t take it on right now. You don’t need to be horribly affronted, offended, or indignant that someone even asked (I mean come on, none of us is that important.)
Everyone’s 15 minutes is up sometime. People won’t always be beating a path to your doorstep for your input and advice.
It’s good to be in demand. It’s nice to be admired.
The alternative isn’t very fun, now is it?