There has been some discussion going around recently through LinkedIn, and some other sites about the etiquette of “advice”: namely, when should you give it and when should you charge for it; when you should offer it freely and when you should just say ‘no’ and politely remove yourself from the situation.
I’ve had some time to think this through, and I think a sound strategy is to know the difference between an opinion wanted, and an opinion/request for guidance or assistance. You really have to know when to tell the difference if wish to be fair.
Myself; opinions are freely given; as the majority of the time it moves the conversation along, and gives pro or con to a particular course of action being discussed. I look at it as the sharing of ideas, and if I can help someone be a little more successful; then I have done a good thing.
People who are looking for paid assistance usually would start the conversation with: “If you have time, I have a project that I would like to get your help with; ideas or thoughts on what I am trying to do as I am stumped on the next step…” These are the opportunities where I would weigh time and effort versus my project list. Again the end-goal is to provide what I have been asked for; not what I think is needed.
With this very important differential out of the way, then we can start brain-storming and throwing ideas back and forth. As this is not my project, I try to ensure that the final say goes to the one asking for the assistance, and I spend a great deal of time allowing them to use me as a sounding board for their ideas, and try to give them flight. By working in this fashion, the project can only get better than before we began, and I enjoy the feeling of a job well done, when the person I am assisting leaves with a book full of ideas and a smile, knowing that their project is sound, and now more has taken shape towards the eventual success.
This is not to say I would turn down paid work (because that would be silly; and I try to avoid silly at all times), I just like to think that someone is looking for assistance, not to turn their project over entirely to my ideas.
With that I hope I have provided a definition of advice and given all….
Something to Think About.