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November 12, 2010
Friends and Other Nice People Can be Crooks Too

Someone should write a song, “Who Let the Moochers Out,” because they are everywhere. They are friends (the worst kind), and they are strangers you meet networking. They are friendly, nice folks. I ran into three this week. They want your time and expertise, but don’t want to pay for it. Hello, this is what you do for a living.

They are no different than another crook you learn about in the media, except they are stealing from you.

Many service providers face this ugly group often. Some of us fold, because we feel guilty about sticking to we are in business to make a fair profit in exchange for value we deliver,  or sometimes we feel sympathetic, because these moochers cry I’m poor (that’s not your fault) and others convince themselves that this giving of time and talent will translate into new business (sometimes it does, but 80 percent of the time it doesn’t), and others like me, will just say no and stop the time sucking, energy-and-value-wasting drill and get back to business.

Here are the clues friends and other nice people don’t value your stuff enough to pay

They want to meet for lunch. In the invitation, chat, or call, they don’t offer giving you anything back like: leads for your business or even indicate they may buy your services in the near future. But they do stay focused on what they hope to get from the lunch, your expertise at no cost to them.

You tell them you are happy to meet for a small consulting fee, and they back off, even when your fee is less than a round of golf or a few bottles of wine. If a company or professional can’t shell out a couple hundred bucks, this is big red flag.

You tell them about a low cost investment, an e-book or service that you offer that is in line with their goals, and they don’t buy one. If a company or professional can’t shell out 10 or 20 bucks,  this is big red flag.

Please don’t get me wrong; giving is good, generosity is golden, but not knowing the difference between a moocher/time-and-talent crook and a homeless business person is a crime.

If you truly believe a friend or contact is interested in buying from you (they have the money, they are a decision maker and they value you) then it may be worth giving a bit, before you ink the deal, but when you put out some fairly low cost investments and they don’t move on it, it usually means they don’t value you.

It’s also important to note that there is a big difference in someone who has no money and someone who does not want to part with his or her money. After nearly 28 years in business, I learned to spot the tire kickers from the buyers.

If you do a great job in communicating your expertise and knowledge and they don’t buy in to a small fee or product, you are asking for trouble.

You and I both know expertise and experience are not free to acquire.

Here’s a great clinching question

When a friend or stranger wants a couple hours of your time, before your shell it out and do the pre research on their issue and tap into your brain which you invested thousands to be so smart.

Ask the moocher if he or she would give you $500 of his or her product before you begin your free session or maybe ask this person to contribute two percent of his or her weekly pay to this project or your favorite charity.

If that does not help you say no. Just think about the five other things you could be working on that will earn you revenues while that time/talent crook steals from you.

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Karen Post, aka The Branding Diva®, is an international branding expert, consultant, and speaker. She has been featured in a broad range of media outlets, including Bloomberg TV and radio, CBS's "The Early Show," The New York Times, The New York Post, NPR, Fast Company, and The Boston Globe. She is also the author of Brand Turnaround (McGraw-Hill) and Brain Tattoos: Creating Unique Brands That Stick in Your Customers' Minds (AMACOM).

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