08 Feb

What is the value of Free?

When I first started providing Internet strategy consulting I was reluctant to provide free advice during the initial meeting.  Once the advice is given it cannot be taken back.  My good friend Jim Crocker suggested that I indeed provide some free counsel as a way of establishing credibility.  He was right.

Last fall Mitch Joel released Six Pixels of Separation, Everyone is connected.  Connect your business to everyone.  This book is a compilation of the process, ideas, and methods that Mitch has been sharing on his blog and during his speaking engagements.  The book covered a lot of material that I’ve already learned and put into practice.  It did do one thing for me and that was get me to focus on some social marketing skills and  techniques to help my advance my own business.

One of the things this new focus allowed me to do was to reach out to an author whom I admire.  I read Made to Stick by the brothers Chip and Dan Heath.  I really like this book.  I follow their blog in my RSS reader and noticed that they moved to a new URL and blog that runs on WordPress.   In looking at the new site I noticed a couple of configuration options that could help make the site more search friendly.  I dropped Dan and email letting him know that updating his permalinks to be human readable and using tags and categories would both help his search engine optimization but also help his users better navigate the site.  A couple of emails later and the Heath Brother’s blog was in much better shape.

So what did taking Mitch’s and Jim’s advice do for me?  For starters, it got me and advance copy of Switch.  That wasn’t my goal but I am looking forward to reading it.  Does this one act immediately translate into more business?  No, but that wasn’t the point.  I wanted to help Dan, that’s all.  I’ve created some goodwill that I might be able to use in the future.  That goodwill translates into value for my personal brand.