The other day I wrote about how you can swap services to get help rather than think you have to pay people all the time. This morning I read Jacks My worst nightmare post and it made me realize how they are very related. Rather than write the post I was going to I had to address this point.
First let’s take a look at his post …
Every IT person I’ve ever met has at least one nightmare story about being roped into fixing somebody’s home PC/network/broadband and everything going wrong.
You can read my comments so I won’t repeat them, suffice to say I have had the experience and it has left me a little defensive over the whole “can you help me with my PC” thing. In fact one of the nice side benefits of now being a Mac owner is I can say “Vista? Oh, bad luck, never used it”.
My problem with people doing this were not so much that they asked, it was that they would call at random and irritating times (1am not uncommon, especially when these people were from overseas) and would assume I would help and get annoyed if I was less than enthusiastic. Demanding help from a complete stranger (even one who is a friend of a friend of a distant relative) is not my first choice of persuasion technique.
To make matters worse, on questioning it turned out many of these people had skills I could have benefitted from, accountants, plumbers, builders … did any of them offer to return the favour? No. Not once.
It might surprise you to hear that I still advocate helping people out. I do it all the time.
Even for the ungrateful, miserly folks, it still feels good to help someone out.
You see I believe you must not change your personality because a bunch of freeloaders have taken advantage of you.
My approach is to be clear with myself what is a charged service and what I am willing to give for free and who for. As an example, I am much happier to bend my personal rules for a charity.
What personal giving rules can you decide?
Also you can not really blame people for not knowing your rates if you do not publish them. While you are not exactly saying “please take one” it doesn’t help if there is no indication that you charge money for what they are about to ask of you. Make it obvious that you charge for your services.
People wonder why I give so much away, a free ebook, free advice, etc. Of course I am naturally a helpful guy 🙂 It also works for me.
Giving stuff away is my main marketing technique.
I am not going to stop being helpful, it would be against my character and actually reduce my effectiveness. Had I not given stuff away you might not be reading this now!
So to sum up, keep being open, helpful and friendly, just know where you draw the line.
People don’t take advantage of you, you allow yourself to be taken advantage of. You are in control 🙂