The Free Advice Club
The first rule of the Free Advice Club is: you talk about the Free Advice Club! Not like that other club.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ve had an extremely fortunate career trajectory. When I reflect on what — besides a massive amount of luck — has made it possible, I see that the one “strategy” that has contributed enormously to my success: sharing free advice.
That’s why I’ve tried to publish everything I know on Medium, LinkedIn, SlideShare, and Quora. You can find my older posts on The Noisy Channel. I’ve tried to share what I’ve learned — about search engines, data science, machine learning / AI, hiring and being hired, and so forth. Anything that I feel might be useful to others.
I put “strategy” in scare quotes, because sharing free advice isn’t some kind of devious scheme. It’s not motivated by self-promotion or professional networking, even though it often leads to both. It’s not about positioning yourself as a “thought leader”, a ghastly phrase that deserves its scare quotes. Sharing free advice isn’t — or shouldn’t be — transactional or calculating.
When you share advice, do it for the right reason: the hope that people will benefit from it and share it further. Do it because you want to improve the world you live in, or at least to make the world more to your taste. Do it so your advice won’t go to waste. Do it because you can’t do everything yourself: sharing free advice has extraordinary leverage when others act on it.
Why am I, a consultant — someone paid for advice by the hour — saying that you should share advice for free? Because sharing free advice doesn’t undermine your ability to charge for advice. The kind of advice you share for free is far more general than the personalized advice that clients pay for. Besides, most people weren’t going to pay you anyway. Moreover, the reputation you obtain from sharing free advice — at least if it’s good advice — will serve as a powerful source of lead generation.
But again, don’t think of sharing free advice as a marketing strategy. It won’t work — people will see through it. Share free advice in the hope that people will take it, benefit from it, and spread it around. Take pleasure in making the world a better place, and trust that things will work out for you too.
So come on and join the Free Advice Club. And remember, the first rule of the Free Advice Club is: you talk about the Free Advice Club!