I’ve been utterly floored this past month by the volume of requests I’ve received for FREE help from complete strangers, and by the nature and content of these requests.
The bulk of these requests have come in from readers of my article LinkedIn: Busting 8 Damaging Myths About What It Can Do For Your Career, that ran on Forbes.com on September 13th. It surprised all of us (the Forbes editors and me) as it blew up on the front page and was viewed by over 60,000 people.
That week, I literally heard from over 150 folks asking for all sorts of free help and I continue to get requests, including my review and recommendations on: their LinkedIn profiles, resumes, job or career options, potential career changes, interview approaches, how to get testimonials, and on and on.
What I’m stunned about is that in all of these requests for free help, not ONE person offered to pay for my time, or suggested bartering with something of value. They simply wanted help without offering anything in return. Perhaps I’m crazy, but I would never ask a stranger for help in this way.
Further, a good number of these requests for free help were:
1) Urgent – “I have an urgent career decision to make. Can you respond asap?”
2) Disrespectful – These folks didn’t care or consider for a second that I make my living offering career counsel. I’m not a non-profit or a charity; I’m a business owner. And I’m really good at what I do, after years of training and experience. It takes a significant amount of time and energy to review someone’s information/situation and offer tailored recommendations. I deserve to be paid for my time and effort.
(For the record, I do offer my time for free, but on a very selective basis to organizations and non-profits that have a broad reach and help hundreds of people through their services.)
3) Narcissistic – It’s all about them, and what they need and how soon. Never a second thought about what I might need in order to be of service to them.
4) Clueless – It’s clear that these folks hadn’t a clue that theirs was one of hundreds of similar requests, and as such, impossible to accommodate without their becoming a client of mine, and having time scheduled in my calendar.
Please don’t get me wrong. I’m truly honored and excited that my writing touched a chord and resonated with so many people, and I certainly hope that trend continues. And I do LOVE to be of service to people, helping them make positive change. And I love hearing from folks about how my writing impacted them.
That being said, I’m tired and fed up with free help requests. It remains shocking to me that so many people all across the globe who want help forget to be considerate and respectful of those they’re asking support from. Come on people! Let’s reverse that trend.
My hope is that going forward, anyone who asks another individual for free help will be more considerate and thoughtful prior to making the request. Think about what the helping party deserves for his/her support, what it will take from them to give you the help you want, and what you can offer in return. If you can’t offer money, think about what you can provide that would be meaningful. NEVER ask without considering these issues beforehand.
One more thing – for every request you make for FREE help, offer someone else free help instead.