Tuesday, September 1, 2009

How to Bill Members of Your Networking Groups

I put this forward as a suggestion only.

If your start-up business is still weak and you are worried about next month's rent, PAY THE RENT, don't take action on this – but do make a note to consider following this path when business picks up.

If your business is humming along, then please consider the positive impact on YOUR business that the following strategy might achieve.

I am, often enough, approached by members of my networking groups to perform a bit of computer maintenance, or document recovery and the like. I am known for my technical skills. You might be asked by friends, family and colleagues to create a small graphic in a familiar theme, or to proof-read a resume or a web page.

Your contact honestly want to pay you for your services, and that is good; they recognize that you have a skill that they lack, and that your services are of good value.

You feel a little (but not totally!) uncomfortable about Making Money off someone who improves your marketing efforts, encourages you at networking meetings, invites you over for supper when the pace if frenetic, and so on.

Their value is recognized by you, but it is NOT the mercenary value of their business route.

What to do?

Your contact wants to keep this action professional, as do you, but neither one of you wants to take advantage of the other.

Here's the suggestion:

Agree on the dollar amount, and take 10% of that amount. That's a whopping 90% discount. Let's say that document recovery would take 7 hours and I bill at $110/hour, yielding $770. Ten percent of that is $77. If your contact refuses to quibble and round sit up to $80, let them do that. The ten-percent was an arbitrary ratio anyway.

Then your contact pays you the $80, and you pay that immediately into your networking groups coffers for a cash door-price, guest memberships, or whatever the executive committee decides to do with it. That's not you decision, your decision is to turn it over to the group.

(if your contact is a domestic contact, shoot the money to your favorite charity, animal shelter, etc.).

What happens?

You and your contact have reinforced the value of your services. You really ARE worth $110/hour for what you do, and your contact respects you for delivering $770 of value to them.

You respect your contact and keep their sense of worth intact. Nothing so cheapens a relationship by a patronizing donation. You haven't turned your contact into a begging pauper; you have recognized them as a willing client.

The networking organization, of course, loves you both, and can state that the donation was made by two members (no names are used, of course) thus reinforcing for the organization, and for you all, the value of belonging and taking part.

All in, I can't see a downside to this approach.

We all feel good about paying for and being paid for services without feeling that anyone is taking advantage of anyone.

Our business relationship is worth much more than $693, and we all know it and confirm it this way.

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