Asking for help is one thing; but expecting it for free is quite another. Now before I begin, I want to tell my friends that no, I am not talking about you!
Sometimes although we are well aware that are friends are great at what they do, we forget that their talent is their bread and butter – in other words everyone else has to pay, why wouldn’t you? And if you make your friend feel bad for charging you then shame on you! I would love to help all my friends but if I did just for kindness I would starve – and more importantly so would the pups! And my dogs like to eat.
If you are asking your friend for a favor assume that you will pay a fee for their services, it is only right and respectful to them. By assuming it is free you are actually showing a great deal of disrespect to your friend. In essence you are telling them that you do not feel what they do has value but you are more than willing to take advantage of their expertise.
Second, if the money is a bit tight for you, be honest and tell your friend that. Do not use it as an excuse to want something for free, rather ask if it would be possible to work out a payment plan.
And lastly, do not, I repeat, NOT try to wiggle your way into a freebie. If your friend is an accountant and you ask a simple question, fine. But to ask them to take a look at your return just to look at one item, then keep coming back until you have had them review the whole darn thing – that’s sneaky. And what kind of up-front honest friend are you?
Another option is to see if your friend would be willing to barter. I see no problem in that at all and it could be a win-win. You have something to offer that you would expect people to pay you for so offering value in exchange for value could be just the ticket for both of you.
I had a workshop attendee do this once, he emailed me for a review of his resume. This is fine, I offer this to everyone at no charge. Then he emailed me after he worked on his opening statement to get my thoughts on that revision. Then there was an email about one position, then bullet points, then another position, then formatting… He said he was just asking a question. No, buddy, you were asking a lot but stringing them out. My hair may be blond but do not assume. And it is not naturally blond anyway.
You are not a friend if you try to make them feel bad for charging a fee or making a comment about how much their fee is, as though you are offended they charge so much. First of all, if you didn’t think they had expertise then you would not have asked them. Secondly, who the heck are you to determine that they are not worth that fee?
I don’t apologize for my fee, I am worth it. I have had people tell me that they could get a resume online for a fraction of my fee. My advice: then go do it. Don’t think you are going to shame me in lowering my fee because you have price shopped.
And for those that are being requested by friends to do things for free and feel bad about charging – knock it off. If your friends make you feel bad about it then how great of a friend are they? I do not have friends based upon what they can do for me nor do I want to be someone’s friend just for the fact of what I can do for them. I respect myself and my friends much more than that.
Sometimes we unintentionally put our friends in an awkward position by asking for free help. It is not intentional, we just have a brain fade. If you have done so, just go back to your friend and apologize in case they thought you were trying to free-load. Hopefully we can be a little more mindful when asking for help and not unintentionally disrespect our friends. They are too important as is your friendship.
Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Career Polish, Inc.