When is advice free and when should you charge for it?
A question is often asked as to when to charge for information. This is not an easy question to answer as it really depends on the situation. If you are doing a speech for non-profit, then your advice can be pro bono (at no cost). I would have no difficulty sharing my expertise with such an organization but I do draw the line when a profit organization asks for the same privileges. Non-profits are exactly what their name say, and even though they do have money to spend in some areas, some free advice is good. The advice, however, should be given through formal channels. You should ask to work with their board of directors to see what help they actually need and then offer your services.
Remember that each person in a non-profit also has a job in the community and may want to use your services or book you for an event as a speaker. The rule of thumb is to make sure you do not give the farm away when giving free advice. If you do, there is nothing more you can give to the business people in that organization. You should temper what you give so that the organization can move forward but watch out for those organizations that tend to ask more than you can give. It is the additional information that you can charge for.
There will always be a fine line between giving free information and being exploited. If you are exploited, you will know it and the experience will give you a bad taste for non-profit organizations. Not all organizations are run that way, give freely of your advice and make sure they use the information for what it is intended.
Bette Daoust, Ph. D. has been networking with others since leaving high school years ago. Realizing that no one really cared about what she did in life unless she had someone to tell and excite. She decided to find the best ways to get people’s attention, be creative in how she presented herself and products, getting people to know who she was, and being visible all the time. Her friends and colleagues have often dubbed her the “Networking Queen”. Blueprint for Networking Success: 150 ways to promote yourself is the first in this series. Blueprint for Branding Yourself: Another 150 ways to promote yourself is planned for release in 2005. For more information visit http://www.BlueprintBooks.com