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Business Networking And Why You Should "Work For Free" Sometimes

Hear me out. I am against working for free, and it's rude to ask for free work. I wrote an entire article about it for America's Future.

But… Toxic Internet Advice has been circulating for the past few years that all work ought to be paid work, and I have even read, "Invoice people for that advice!" "You're worth it…when people ask for a meeting, send them your rate sheet."

Sure… don't spend all day dispensing free advice. You've worked hard to develop your expertise. But…generously making referrals, brainstorming, and offering feedback are part of being a friend or colleague.

Growing a successful business means building a network of potential clients, vendor partners, referral sources, and masterminds who help you solve problems. In return, you offer advice and support and generally behave like a human being.

What is the difference between "working for free" and being a good colleague?

For example, I will not write a grant or website for free. I will, however, gladly spend 20 minutes on the phone giving someone feedback about existing copy or sharing helpful resources.

One friend generously offered to share media booking contacts with me, and I will do the same for him. Of course, we shouldn't make demands of near-strangers. Establish trust and rapport first, but once that relationship is made…consider being generous with your time.

It seems like everything from airport rides to business advice is outsourced to coaches and paid support. People should be compensated for their time and deserve to earn a living (this includes non-profit employees…a topic for another day). But, mutual benefit, kindness, and reciprocity play an important role in developing thriving businesses and relationships.

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