When an acquaintance or local business seeks you out hoping to mine some of your knowledge and skills without compensation, you have to draw a line.
There are plenty of buzzwords that signal a request for free labor. You're doing them "a favor" or "just taking a look." Perhaps they can't pay you in cash, but you're set to be compensated plenty in priceless "exposure" and "experience." It's a crock. Exposure and experience are rarely worth uncompensated work. Asserting yourself and maintaining your dignity are vital if you wish to be respected in the professional marketplace.
Whatever reason they give, the bottom line is the same: they want you to work for free. So, how do you respond when someone asks you to work for free? Here are some tips:
Assume That They Are Going To Pay You
It’s always easier to respond when you assume the best. In this case, assume that the person does want to pay you. If you’re interested in having someone as a client, respond with, “I’d be happy to help,” then go ahead and launch into your services, corresponding fees, and next steps.
Of course, these inquiries might not be the best place to be developing clients, since their initial assumption was that your work wasn’t worth payment. With this in mind, you may want to consider declining your services.