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Friend always asking for free advice

  • Last Updated:
  • Aug 11th, 2019 4:21 pm
[OP]
Member
Feb 15, 2018
372 posts
442 upvotes
Edmonton

Friend always asking for free advice

I am quite established in my line of work and besides a full time management position, I also run a consulting practice on the side.

I have a friend who does not hesitate calling for assistance whenever he runs into issues at his job that require my expertise. I have even given him a proposal to forward to his boss on how my expertise can be of value to their company and even my rates. They did not engage my services but he has no issue calling me for advise. I try giving him vague answers and pointing him towards the direction he needs to pursue to get the answers he needs, but he presses for details. Do not mind someone bouncing an idea off me but he has even asked me for templates I use for certain tasks.

How best can you tell a friend that you are not in the business of dispensing technical know how and strategy for free? How fair is it to paying clients? Also, he would not have to pay me from his own pocket - his company would be paying me. Maybe he wants to impress his boss by how he can save money and still deliver on a good product.
12 replies
Deal Addict
Jun 14, 2018
1028 posts
1162 upvotes
Next time he asks you, just say you can't really give him a solid answer until you gather more specific details about the work/employer, at which point you would have to charge for your time.

If he presses you for details, that takes up your time having to think of a solution. Let him know you'd have to charge him.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Dec 24, 2007
1555 posts
1855 upvotes
BC
If his company is one that is saving money from your advice, why is he doing the asking as if it is a personal favour? Is he looking to score brownie points?

My general response if someone is looking for free advice is to say that as a professional I don't answer general questions. Without knowing all the specific details I could be giving improper advice as one tiny missing detail can change the entire result. If he wants my professional expertise, his company will have to engage me and I will advise based on all the facts that I decide is relevant and that I will gather. Give him this quote: "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing"
Member
Feb 13, 2017
369 posts
349 upvotes
toronto, ontario
The word "no" is a complete sentence.

Setting boundaries with your friend is important.
Deal Addict
Mar 17, 2016
1546 posts
1445 upvotes
MarinersFanatik wrote: Next time he asks you, just say you can't really give him a solid answer until you gather more specific details about the work/employer, at which point you would have to charge for your time.

If he presses you for details, that takes up your time having to think of a solution. Let him know you'd have to charge him.
I would do this. Solid advice. You're not exactly saying "no" but also not giving away advice for free. Need to explain the situation to your friend in a professional way.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Mar 7, 2007
4578 posts
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Is he really your friend?

Because I would just stop answering the phone. My own situation is that my manager has given me too many problems to solve / work on, I cannot be wasting my time with other people's problems. I honestly wouldn't have time for something like this.
Deal Addict
Aug 31, 2017
4415 posts
2300 upvotes
motomondo wrote: Is he really your friend?

Because I would just stop answering the phone. My own situation is that my manager has given me too many problems to solve / work on, I cannot be wasting my time with other people's problems. I honestly wouldn't have time for something like this.
I agree. If I'm friend's with someone, I wouldn't hesitate to give them advice if I am knowledgable already in that field.
Deal Addict
Jan 1, 2013
1840 posts
1052 upvotes
Durham
MyNameWasTaken wrote: I agree. If I'm friend's with someone, I wouldn't hesitate to give them advice if I am knowledgable already in that field.
Not when the advice is related around your own business. Friends should respect that. If OP's friend was really a friend, he would support his business as opposed to asking for handouts.
Deal Addict
Aug 31, 2017
4415 posts
2300 upvotes
Kkhan15 wrote: Not when the advice is related around your own business. Friends should respect that. If OP's friend was really a friend, he would support his business as opposed to asking for handouts.
Everyone is different. I guess OP is understandably looking for ways to advance his business, and his friend is begging for free advice to advance his career. So I can see where the cross roads lie, especially if it's a one way street.
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Sep 23, 2009
5089 posts
2271 upvotes
LOL at him handing in your proposal with rates.

This is also called handing your employer your replacement.

Do you really believe that he did this?
Sr. Member
Nov 22, 2017
715 posts
422 upvotes
Your friend is always asking for advice because you haven't said no yet. Unfortunately, some people know no boundaries. It's one thing to talk about generalities and it's another thing for someone to ask specifics. In my line of work i simply wouldn't have time to even dwell on specifics unless i am being paid, not to mention the liabilities that could arise from me giving potentially wrong advice. However, on the other side it doesn't hurt to give general advice because that's essentially "networking". You never know your friend could return the favour down the line. It's always a fine balance, lawyers use this tactic all the time to fish in clients during their free consultation.
[OP]
Member
Feb 15, 2018
372 posts
442 upvotes
Edmonton
renoldman wrote: LOL at him handing in your proposal with rates.

This is also called handing your employer your replacement.

Do you really believe that he did this?
No idea if he truly handed in my proposal - can only take his word for it. I do not think I can be a replacement for his job as we are in different lines of work, that just happen to have a bit of an intersection. No, I can never do his job and neither can he do my job. Imagine two friends, one a CFO and one in risk management. The CFO has to mitigate a lot of risks to save money and some of the risk management expertise is way beyond a CFOs experience and training. The CFO is clearly out of their depth and need a risk management expert for that type of area. The CFO can definitely have an overall idea but would need help with the details. Would a CFO be able to carry out a competent analysis of the risks of their company's defined benefits plan? Hell no! They need help and the actuary helping them is not a CPA who would want their CFO role. Just an example I am giving not saying that is our exact situation.
Deal Expert
User avatar
Sep 21, 2010
15185 posts
4580 upvotes
Montréal
Extrahard wrote: Your friend is always asking for advice because you haven't said no yet. Unfortunately, some people know no boundaries. It's one thing to talk about generalities and it's another thing for someone to ask specifics. In my line of work i simply wouldn't have time to even dwell on specifics unless i am being paid, not to mention the liabilities that could arise from me giving potentially wrong advice. However, on the other side it doesn't hurt to give general advice because that's essentially "networking". You never know your friend could return the favour down the line. It's always a fine balance, lawyers use this tactic all the time to fish in clients during their free consultation.
I really agree w this.... some ppl have no shame and are really thick-skinned, some of the things certain ppl do is just not acceptable in social settings, and then one is put in an awkward position on how to handle it while 'keeping face'.

I know OP is some kind of professional/consultant so s/he really should be able to figure this out her/himself as no stranger can tell you, e.g. how much of friends are you? How significant is the potential advice, lost income, unfairness to paying clients, word of that leaking out, etc? Would it be no skin off your back and really help your friend out or vice versa or other combo? List is endless.
Hard work, inheritance, interest on interest accumulating, and stock and real estate speculation. It's all good.

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