Do your friends steal from you? – Working on principles of acquaintanceship

I will start with short story…

At a networking event, I met a girl who designs exclusive hand-made handbags. Hearing what I was doing, she asked for business advice. She complained that she had mastered the entire production process, but could not sell them (that’s a popular problem!). I gave her specific advice, which on the same day brought results (YAY!).

The next day I got an email from this girl who listed over 20 problems with the question of how to solve them. I offered her a paid consultation to discuss these points and find solutions appropriate to her situation. She took me for pity. She told me how bad things were in her life. I was so moved by her story, that I agreed to help her free of charge – on principles of “acquaintanceship”. Because as she said – I do it every day, so why do I care. The consultation lasted almost 3 hours, but at that point, I was glad that I could help.

Soon, the girl came back to tell me that my advice worked well and now she can pay me for another consultation. She bought a consultation, but immediately afterwards she flooded me with e-mails and phone calls with additional requests for help and messages like “Please, answer me! This is important!”.

As a normal human being I get tired of her pushy behaviour, I said that I was happy with the results we could achieve together in such a short time, but due to other projects I am working on, I will not be able to continue our cooperation (Such a diplomatic answer, right? Something unusual for me, right?). She accepted the information with a smile on her face, saying that she understood and that she was grateful for every advice I gave her.

Although we ended our cooperation, I decided to keep an eye on her online activities. I wanted to observe the further development of her and her brand. I saw that for several days she worked intensively for her success. But then there was less and less activity. Until suddenly she started offering business cards design (WTF?!), and later she named herself a business consultant by copying my content (seriously?!).

You’ve heard about the saying “it’s a small world”. It turned out that mutual friends appeared, who made me realize that extorting help on principles of “acquaintanceship” is her daily strategy.

Worst of all, she decided to refine her story with an episode with me in the role of a business consultant who absolutely did not help her, only took her money (Absurd!).

There are many such stories of help on principles of “acquaintanceship”. My friends often force me to develop specific concepts for the development of their companies, small and large projects…

I believe that this is just robbing people of their time, knowledge, experience, energy and money.

For friends, it is a simple ask – effortless – because “you do it every day”. For me, it is a work associated with a lot of negative emotions, a race of thoughts, understatements, which often contribute to the breakdown of the relationship.

Let’s think about it…

If I work for free, I should try less? On the other hand, we know each other, so the effect of my work should be spectacular, right? But why should I let others earn money from my ideas and not get any of it myself? And…

Should I honestly say what I think, or for the sake of acquaintanceship” stay nice, should I bite my tongue? Since all this is “for acquaintance” but there is a lot of work, can I lower the price? But how much? How much will be… fair? Or maybe it’s better to do it for the so-called “beer”? For a favour perhaps?

Don’t you think this is TOO MUCH already?

Well, due to the complexity of the situation, it is better to stay aside, but how to refuse in such a case? We “know” each other.

Honestly, at first, I was holding back, but I noticed that this is not the right solution (Actually holding back never works!). That is why I’m straight forward (wherever you like it or not).

If one of my friends asks for help, I assess whether I can help, whether I want to help and I value the work just like for any other client. Because if everyone wants tangible results, they can’t be treated differently. A friend agrees to my terms or not. If they are dissatisfied with my offer, that’s okay. It’s their choice. Maybe, that’s not someone who should be around me, anyway…

I believe that friends are the most difficult clients. That is why I rarely offer them my help. Neither do I work with everyone who wants to work with me. Everyone has the right to choose, so I consciously choose my clients. I have a few rules that I follow and which make me avoid such confusing situations. And any client dissatisfied with my selection has the right to do so. I respect his opinion, but that doesn’t mean I don’t respect mine.

Did you experience a similar story? What do you think about work on principles of “acquaintanceship”? Does it work for you?

My viewpoint about work on principles of acquaintanceship was recently published for polish readers HERE.

P.S. is building an online store. Have a look and say what do you think 😉 LINK

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