Going “All In”–For Free

Recently, a business acquaintance sent me a message over Facebook regarding my Marketing Consultant business. He wanted to talk to me about potentially helping his company with some Facebook marketing. We chatted on the phone later that day and I learned a couple of things. Number one: his company is currently using another marketing firm to handle their social media marketing. And two: he wanted my help in promoting an upcoming event through Facebook. After we talked awhile, it became apparent that there may be an opportunity here. If I agreed to help out with this one event and it went well, his company may be willing to look at hiring me to handle all of their social media marketing. There was of course one obvious fact that was maybe not so great: I would be working for free. Not exactly the ideal situation for someone trying to turn a side business into a full time gig eventually, right? Well…

I gave it a bit of thought (since he is a good guy and it is a great community event!) after our phone conversation. We had discussed an event date in the very near future, which meant there was no chance of me donating my work indefinitely. There was also the chance that helping out this company may get me noticed by the company owners, which may lead to doing business with them eventually (and getting paid!). Even more than that though was the fact this event was for a good cause in my community. Truthfully, I really didn’t  have to think about this opportunity for very long before deciding I was all in!

The key phrase there though is “all in.” When I agree to do something, I make sure to follow through. And I give it my best! Yes, even though I’m not getting paid. And even though I may not get a chance to take over that company’s social media marketing. Once I said yes to helping promote this event, my name, my company, and my brand are stamped on those Facebook posts. So that’s why I did put some thought into it to be sure I could be “all in.”

Next time you’re asked to donate your time or your work, here are some key points to consider:

  1. Is there a deadline or cut off date for the free or pro-bono work? If not, set one!
  2. Is there a potential benefit to your business? Make sure to think about more than just money here–think about branding and name recognition, for instance.
  3. Is the donated time worth it to you? Think about your values and whether they match up with what you are being asked to donate your time to.
  4. Are you going to do your best with the work you’ve been asked to donate? If you can’t honestly answer “yes” here, then I would suggest you politely turn down the request.

Now the next time you find yourself facing a request to donate your work, you have some starting points to help you determine if you’ll say no…or if you’ll say “Yes, I’m all in!”

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