May 8, 2016

Rachel Strella

How to Handle Requests for Your Time

timeIn response to my recent post, 12 business social media pet peeves, a Twitter friend asked me: “And what do you do about that 2nd to last? [I am] starting to ignore them - but then I feel bad!”

For those of you who are curious, here is the ‘peeve’ she’s referencing:

Making an initial connection with a company or business to then ask for free advice or make a request (ex: share your content, like your page or connect you with someone we know)

You know the request – can I pick your brain? For me, I’m honored for last years' feature as a leader in my field, in Small Business Trends. However, it leads to a lot inquiries from budding social media entrepreneurs who want advice to help them achieve success in their own business.

While I advocate offering value, I have to draw the line somewhere - especially with people I don’t know yet. If I took the time to help everyone who asked me for this type of advice, I wouldn’t get any of my own work done.  I also wouldn’t be properly serving my clients who pay me for my expertise.

If you're solicited for free advice or unwanted requests for your time, perhaps these solutions can help.

Offer a low-cost option for filtering these type of inquiries. For the social media managers who request my assistance, I thank them for reaching out and congratulate them for striking it out on their own. I inform that that I receive a lot of requests for information of this nature, which is why I decided to create an exclusive program for social media managers. Then, I send them the link and invite them to join me.

The same goes for prospects who clearly want more time from us than the thirty minute consult we provide via phone. In most cases, they are not ideal clients, but they want someone to point them in the right direction. I tell them I am happy to help them further… then I share the link to my instant consult option.

I do not receive many purchases for either option, but at least it keeps me from saying ‘no, I won’t help you.’

Push it off. I welcome conversations with colleagues and friends. Have you ever had the sense that they may want to get together to pitch something? It’s like clockwork when a connection creates a new program and I receive an invite to get together and chat. Again, I enjoy this, but I can’t spend all day doing it. And, if I suspect it’s because they want to solicit me in some way, I respond by saying, “I would love to get together. However, I’m booked for a few weeks with a major project. Would you be able to get together xxx date?”  Typically, I push it off by a month or more. If they truly want to get together, they will accept that, and my hope is that the prospective offer will ‘die down’ by then.  If I truly don’t want to get together with the person, that’s when I say, “Great to hear from you! I hope you’re doing well. As you know, I’ve been extremely busy, but since we are both active in the Harrisburg community, I am sure I’ll see you at a function sometime soon.”   They get the hint.

Ignore it. Ever receive a connection request from someone who has similar connections, so you accept? Then you receive an immediate message about a ‘great opportunity?’ A phone call to discuss how you can ‘work together’ or ‘refer each other.’ Or my favorite, how much of ‘an honor it would be if you reviewed my product.’  It’s irritating and spammy. IF I have the time to respond, I politely say thanks, but no thanks. But, if don’t, I ignore it, which has been the case more frequently lately.  It should go without saying that we need to conduct ourselves online in the same manner would we in person. Some people have no boundaries, but most should have some common sense. Apply it to the web!

You may be surprised to know that this does not come natural to me. I am a people pleaser. But, with practice, it gets easier. I am relieved of guilt and I have the time to accomplish what’s most important to me.

How do you handle unwelcome requests for your time?

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5 comments on “How to Handle Requests for Your Time”

  1. Thanks for posting this, Rachel. The "paid" options are a great idea. As someone who makes a living as a consultant, I am always amazed that people always ask for free advice! The other two I have done but with much guilt, so I'm relieved to hear I'm not the only one.

    Biggest takeaway for me, though, was realizing that as a blogger, I do try to provide content of value. In other words - free advice. So that's sometimes another way to respond to these requests - read my posts!

    1. Hi Chris -

      You make a FANTASTIC point! I giveaway 'free advice' on my blog, each week, as well. And I often share my posts as responses to certain questions. That should be the fourth bullet! Thanks for reminding me of this!


  2. Rachel:

    I ref. to the segment in my podcast show on the Trader Principle and how I want to get paid in real money, i.e., silver.

    Have you read No, You Can't Pick My Brain, It Costs by Adrienne D. Graham?

    1. I've never heard of the book, but I must check it out! Thanks for your loyal readership!

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