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Why coffee meetings and requests to pick your brain are bad for your business

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Let’s talk over coffee. I’ll buy you coffee. Are you free for a coffee so I can pick your brain? How many times have you heard these phrases?

At first, it’s flattering. Someone wants to learn from your expertise. They think what you have to say is worth hearing.

But wait!

If what you have to say is worth hearing, if you’re an expert, why aren’t they paying you? When you start out in your business, you’ll say yes to everything.

But let me tell you this from experience, you have to learn to value your time before others will. There are very good reasons why you should charge for your time. Here’s what I think.

Charging attracts people who are serious

Remember all those coffee meetings we talked about? Really think back and figure out how many of those you’ve been to.

Do you feel like you’re having far too much coffee and your brain’s being picked all the time, yet your bank balance isn’t growing? You set up a business to follow your passion, but you have to eat! And with the greatest will in the world, coffee isn’t going to keep you fed, clothed or put a roof over your head.

Charging for your time, even if you’re testing a new service, means that people who are serious will seek you out because they know the expertise you have comes with a cost attached to it.

And those tire-kickers (the people who say they’re out to buy a car, but just end up kicking the tyres) will naturally fall away. Yes, the offers of coffee will decrease, but your bank balance will go up!

Not getting paid makes you feel like you’re wasting your time

Think about all those coffee meetings you’ve had. How often did you feel that was 45 minutes, an hour, or more you would never get back?

Did you walk away feeling like you wasted your time? I know the feeling! I’ve been there. Thinking that this meeting will lead to a new client. Invariably, all the person was after was some free advice and walked away getting that.

What did you get? A sense that you wouldn’t see that person again, that they would never be your customer, that you wasted a whole load of your time.

Charging makes you feel like your time was well spent because you are actually earning money.

Getting paid means you turn up and make an effort!

When someone pays you, you feel obliged to give them your best. They walk away feeling like they got value for the money they spent. It’s a two-way relationship that ends in a win/win.

It means you do your best work and are seen in the best light. After all, you have a reputation to manage. What would you prefer people say about you? Even if people receive free advice, if you don’t make an effort in their eyes, they won’t speak kindly of you. You’ll both feel cheated.

So, charging means that you will always do your best work and people will feel they received value.

Charging means you get a commitment

For anyone who offers services, your time = money. That is what you are selling – your time, which gives people the opportunity to benefit from your expertise.

Think about the times when those coffee meetings just didn’t happen. They were cancelled at the last minute for something more important. More important than your time! How did that make you feel?

Anyone who spends money on anything wants to make sure they don’t waste that money. Charging for your time means you get a commitment to meet. Because those 45-minute coffee meetings aren’t 45 minutes for you. It’s 45 minutes plus the time you have to travel to get there and back not to mention any prep work you’ve done for that meeting.

When people pay for your time, they actually turn up!

Charging for your time makes them value your expertise

OK, they probably do value your expertise. Why would they want to pick your brain if they didn’t? But, do they value it enough to take you seriously as a business?

Think about it. Don’t you want to be taken as a serious business? Look at all the people in your field that are looked at as experts. They didn’t get there by giving away their time for free. They’ve done it by understanding what their time and expertise are worth and charging for it.

So, being afraid to say no to those requests for coffee meetings is holding you back from being the expert in your industry that people seek out and pay to receive advice from.

You still get feedback, and you get paid!

I know, you’re doing it for free because you want to get feedback on your new service. It’s not quite ready yet, so you don’t feel like you can charge.

Rubbish! I was still developing my one-to-one mentoring service and signed up two clients before it hit the world. They approached me, and I saw the opportunity to get some feedback on how it would work. Yes, I charged less than I normally do, but I still got paid.

Just because your service isn’t quite ready yet, doesn’t mean you should be afraid to charge for it. Isn’t it still taking your time? Isn’t the client still benefitting from the advice you give? Yes, of course! So, why shouldn’t you be paid?

Taster sessions can lead to permanent clients

If you think of all those requests for coffee or to pick your brain as a taster session, then charging for that becomes easier.

It’s also a lead for you to work on to turn that person into a fully paying client. Think about it. They’ve paid to have a taster session. They loved the advice you gave them, and you got on well.

This is what we call a warm lead. They are prime for you to develop into a more permanent client, paying full price. Why? Because they’ve already had a taste of your service and know the impact it makes on their business. They value your time and expertise.

I hope I’ve given you enough reasons to help you figure out how you’re going to charge for your time, every time. Be bold and start today.

And, if you’d like a taster session of my one-to-one mentoring, I’ve built a plan just for that reason. Check it out!


2 thoughts on “Why coffee meetings and requests to pick your brain are bad for your business

    1. Thanks, Jennifer! It’s really hard to say no, but we have to. As Kathy Ennis says, she had a full diary and an empty bank account!

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