Do you audition for paid work?
A forensic accountant does a preliminary analysis for free. An author writes an article for free. A professional speaker gives a speech or facilitates a session at a conference for free.
We can probably all agree that SOMETIMES it makes sense to do a free gig. There may be a group you haven’t been able to get access to before or an opportunity to earn money in other ways.
But how many people abuse the privilege? They think their “exposure” is enough for you to spend your precious time and not get paid or your ability to provide pro bono services is unlimited.
Time is a finite resource. An hour I spend on your free gig is an hour when I’m not earning money for my family.
I’m going to be very selective about that. I only do free speaking engagements for attorneys at gatherings large enough to make sense. If I have an audience of enough attorneys, I have a good chance of finding a new client. I don’t do free sessions for other professions, because they do not have a reasonable likelihood of leading to paid consulting engagements in the future.
I sometimes do a free preview on a forensic accounting engagement. Is it a big enough engagement? Do I want to work with this attorney? Do I have time? Does it make sense to preview the situation before accepting the engagement? I don’t mind doing a preliminary analysis at no charge if I think it’s a good case and it’s likely that my “free” work will lead to a paid engagement. But I’m very selective about this.
Guard your time. There are lots of people willing to take advantage of you for free if you let them. Make sure there is a good business case for doing something for free.