Ask Keri: If someone you know asks for free advice about nutrition, how do you respond?
Keri says: Great question! This can be very hard because on the one hand most of us want to discuss nutrition, health, and wellness with everyone and anyone all the time, because we’re passionate about what we do. On the other hand, it is also our business and we make a living doing it.
First of all, remember: Your knowledge is your product. Your friends that own stores don’t give away clothing. Your friends that are accountants don’t do your taxes for free.
For a very close friend or family member, though, I give give give (and give some more). If they want help (and are truly going to put in effort), I always help. I feel like it is something I have that I can offer the people I love. I’m happy to.
But, while it is easy to do this with everyone…you can’t. You won’t be able to pay bills and you will become resentful. Once you get past your immediate family and very close friends, you need to have clear cut boundaries. These will differ for everyone.
Begin by setting up a script, so you can feel prepared when someone approaches you for advice.
OFFER A FRIENDLY, BRIEF CONSULTATION
For people outside of that inner circle, I usually say something like, “If you have a quick question, I’m happy to chat for a few minutes.” You can make sure to schedule a call in between other appointments so this person knows you are doing them a favor and you won’t get sucked into a half hour of chatter.
SWITCH YOUR SCRIPT TO WORK MODE
Then, without hesitation or feeling bad, have a one-liner ready, such as, “I’m happy to schedule a consultation. You can email me at…” or “I can call you when I am in the office to set an appointment.” Use something you feel comfortable saying that indicates a clear switch into work mode. The person will most likely respect you more, and if the quick free advice you did give was great, it may have just been a perfect marketing opportunity.
Think of people you know who own a restaurant, for example. If it’s not your sister, you wouldn’t expect to go eat there five days a week for free. But, if you do go eat there, you might get lucky and get a free round of drinks or a complimentary appetizer—and then later you’ll go tell everyone you know how great the meal was.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO MAKE EXCEPTIONS
Finally, don’t be afraid to give when the time or person is right. As a smart professional, there are many instances in which giving a little more than you normally may feel right for your career path. There are even times when it will feel like an incredible opportunity to be able to demonstrate your knowledge.
It’s always going to be a balance (and is usually case by case), but having that script in place will help you create boundaries to set you up for success.
(photo credit: Shutterstock)