I have worked for free. It is a whole different ball game than helping someone for free. There are certain kind of people who ask you to do something for them, and then there are people who are humble enough to ask for help. To my experience, these two kind of situations follow a certain path. Now, let’s take a situation where someone thinks he is entitled to use your expertise for free, because, it does not take much of your time or energy. The other person does not have the required skills to complete the task. He might have the money, but rather than paying you, he will keep it to himself for more important investments.
If you work for free once, the other person will assume he has the right to ask you any time he pleases. And, if you do, you will get a reputation of being a freebie. These kind of persons eat in your table while you are only doing the dishes. If you work for free once, and reject the kind offer later on, the other person will stop contacting you and finds a new victim. Off he goes from your circle of contacts. No business now, not in the future. At least I don’t want to be in touch with such kind of people.
On the other hand, if someone is humble and honest enough to ask for your help, something else happens. People are born with the helping attitude. Children are helpful by nature. Then they become adults and some lose that precious behavior. Anyway, think about the situation, if someone asked you
“Do you consider yourself as a helpful person?”
Most probably you would say yes, right? At least I do. I used to be quite selfish and arrogant, and it took me nowhere. Two things you can unlearn, and take helpfulness in instead. When someone is open to ask and receive help, there’s a bond on emotional level. A need and a want-to. Help someone and they will have the reciprocity for a long, long time. Instead of telling others that you work for free, they will be proud of their accomplishment with your help. They will praise you and spread your reputation as a person and an expert. These words will eventually spread so wide that they end up in the right persons’ ears, who want to meet you and do business with you. And, sometimes, the person who you have helped, will call you and buy from you.
What can we learn? We can learn to listen how the other person asks for your actions. Free labor or help? And, offering a helping hand every now and then does no harm but quite the opposite!