If you are reasonably successful in the world of business, you get a lot of demands on your time and mindshare.
One category of these requests are from people who have hit a roadblock in their startup. At the risk of over-simplifying, their earlier assumptions about how the market reacts to their idea did not turn out right. They either need an external set of eyes to look at this or simply for some help to get them out of their fix.
They are reaching out to you because of your experience. It’s not the thirty minutes you spend with them, but how you interpret the current situation with the power of your vast experience to bring some insights to help them.
If you are really good, you might help them understand which of their assumptions are flawed AND what new assumptions should they form.
This was a one-time gift that you offered them.
At the end of the conversation, most people are thankful, but, they take the wrong step of turning that one-time gift into an ongoing gift subscription.
They might say something like – “This is super helpful. Thank you. I am going to incorporate some of your feedback and shall I keep you posted on the progress?”
Now (as if you don’t see it) they are silently subscribing to a free gift subscription program where they can pick your brain on an ongoing basis.
All because you are generously allowed them to pick your brain for the first thirty minutes.
You are smiling now.
Time to reflect and see if you were on the other side of the table?
What if you were the recipient of that one-time gift and you want to turn that into an ongoing gift subscription?
What if you wanted them to voluntarily offer that rather than you trying to force them into it?
Here are three ways to think about that:
1. Offer to pay for their service
The beauty of this approach is that it clearly establish that you truly value and respect their time. You both can mutually establish the details in a win-win fashion.
2. Bring a ton of value to their key projects
When you can’t pay in cash, you have to make it up for them in kind. It is not difficult to find out what they are working on. You either have skills that can help them move the needle further or have valuable connections that you can bring to the table. Or you can do both.
3. Amplify their brand and reach
Whatever is their current brand power and reach, there is room for amplifying both. When you do, that new brand power and reach can open new possibilities for them.
You can think of more ways, but the above three will give you a head start. The goal, simply stated, is for you to make it worth their while to continue to invest their time and mindshare in your success.
If you get your part right, you will be astonished how much they are willing to invest. If you get your part wrong, you just gave a sneak preview of how you will take them for granted. Think carefully before you make your move.
Photo Courtesy: Ashraf Saleh on Flickr