It’s 2018 and people are still offering to “buy you coffee” in exchange for picking your brain (consultation). Coffee is not currency!
Here is how the conversation goes, “Hi. My name is xyz and I love what you do. I have this amazing opportunity/ idea. Can I buy you coffee next week & we have a sit-down?” It always starts as a great deal until you realize you are being used!
After going for endless coffees and getting used by people and brands, let me give you some tips if you are a creative. Learn how to discern a good opportunity from one that is trash. When you are faced with such a situation where you can tell that someone justs wants to use you, here is what you do.
– Bring up rates early in the conversation. Trust me. It looks like a dumb move but this has worked for me. It can be something as subtle as ” What’s your budget for this project? Or, “Meanwhile can I send you my rates for your perusal?” When people hear money/ rates they run!🏃♀️ That thins the herd and leaves you with serious people who wanted to pay for your work.
– Google the sh&T out of that person if you do not know them. What do they do? Ask them hard hitting questions. I was very afraid to ask questions but it saved me from time-wasting meetings. Like what do you do, what is your company name? What will this meeting be about? I almost worked with someone on a big project only to learn that they were using pseudonyms, they kept changing their number and the internet & I knew 0% of them. What would have happened if sh*# hit the fan? I respectfully declined and soon after they closed their Facebook account and vanished. I had been blinded by how “Great” the opportunity was.
– Run a cost-benefit analysis. What are you getting in return? Are you simply giving away free consultations (in exchange for coffee) and the person is just taking notes with no intention of ever working with you?
– If you are 50/50 or you see this is going nowhere ask if this can be done on email. Also be very careful as some people will ask you for detailed proposals. You spend a night coming up with killer ideas, send them and then they implement your ideas without you. It has happened and they used my proposal format/ strategy to pitch to other people.
– If you do decide to take the meeting and are still unsure, be very alert and careful not to get your brain picked. Some of these coffees make you feel like you are being interrogated. Ask questions too. Do the picking too. Don’t give away too much. And lead the conversation too. “How can we work together?”
– Learn to separate your emotions when it comes to your work. I have done jobs for people because they “seem nice” and they have screwed me over. I have refused to ask important questions because “how will they see me?” and I have wished I did.
With that said, pray for the power of DISCERNMENT. Trust your gut and know what to take up and what to drop. These streets are tough. This is not to say there aren’t any good opportunities. There are many great people and opportunities but they are hidden in a sea of scams. After some months, you start learning what works and what doesn’t. And it is okay to say NO. It is okay to work for FREE sometimes if it grows you/ your brand.
Also if you have no intention of ever working with people, stop wasting their time with nonsense business meetings and “fake opportunities”.