It's by choice. They say that if you love what you do, then it doesn't seem like work. That's not entirely accurate. It's still work.
It just fills you with a sense of accomplishment that nurtures the spirit, and it can help you with your career, and pay the bills as a side benefit. All kinds of goodness.
I've been giving my time freely to anyone in need of help for their careers, jobs, projects, etc. Other professionals have helped me, and I feel it's fair to pay it forward.
I've not kept count of all the times I spent on the phone and in person sharing contacts and resources with people looking for work who could not be bothered to send a thank you note or even follow up on any of the leads.
The best way to meet people is to show up at networking events. So I have attended all local events I could find for years. Many I helped organize — over 100 free events, in fact — and made my time available to whoever showed up.
Again, not keeping score, just noticing how few took me up on it in over 10 years. Understandably, people make choices with their time. They get busy on their projects, life, etc.
If you build it, they will come
The conversation about free advice is not new. Lisa Barone has been quite outspoken, like many others. I've talked about it recently again. It's not pitch one marketer, get one free day. We have a term for professional opinion, especially when it's without a relationship as foundation, it's called billable time.
If you build anything of value with your hard work, you can bet on many trying to take you down while on the way — wanting you to conform — and many more knocking on your door once they think you got there.
Can you hear me now?
There are 1,267 posts with useful and applicable information on this blog, plus eBooks — and they're free to you. Speaking for me, I know that when I'm not excelling in something it's because I don't want it enough to apply myself to it.
If you don't like your situation, set your own rules. Indeed I find that it's very motivating and liberating to take on responsibility and make myself accountable for my own actions or lack thereof.
Given the number of pitches I'm getting (online and off line) these days, it seems that many consider me influential. In that case, allow me to suggest a few ways you can get ahead even faster than I have, out of my experience.
On career stuff:
- when professionals give you time for career-related advice do the work
- be polite and professional with my contacts, and I may be inclined to share more
- follow up on the leads you receive because you never know who knows whom
- make it a point to be the most informed person about your problem
- make it easy for people to say yes by doing all the organizing
- people have their own ways of participating in social networks, here's my policy
- my public email address is not an invitation to be on your email newsletter list — that's not networking, that's called spam
- figure out what you can give back (or pay forward) to the community
- be prepared when you attend events — here are 21 things you can do at a conference
- do your homework ahead of meetings
If asking would net you a "no", you know you're doing it wrong. And so that we're clear, things like:
- may I copy that post and drive traffic to my site with it?
- may I call you with that branding question after we barely met and I ignored you?
- may I start a company/blog/service with your brand name now that you've made it successful?
Are a sure way of getting off on the wrong foot with people.
It turns out that doing the work is the shortest path to success. It cuts right to what is important and will become the reason why people find you attractive. It starts with an attitude of service, of seeing everyone as your customer. Given that we're all connected, that's the best way to go.
Value your own time by not wasting that of others. You're just delaying the moment when you'll need to roll up your sleeves.
Happy Labor Day (in the US).