From time to time we are all asked to do something for free. It might be a community goodwill act, it might be a friend wanting something or it might even be a client asking you to go above and beyond the call of duty. What often happens is that we begrudgingly take on a project and from day one we resent doing it, ultimately delivering poorly on what we promised.

My take on this is very simple, if we agree to do something for free, we should deliver the same level of service and professionalism as if we are getting paid full rates. Why? Because how we manage freebie projects says says a great deal about an individuals level of professionalism and others notice.

If you don't really want to do something then develop the skills and strength of character to say "thanks but I don't really have the capacity to do that at this time". Or even "thanks but that's the not the kind of project I work on free of charge". Whatever you need to be able to say to avoid being pressured into taking onto a project that you either don't want to do or really shouldn't be doing because you don't have the capacity right at that moment.

I've sat on many boards for not for profit organizations over the years and having people who start of well-intentioned but then fail to deliver time and time again, is very frustrating. I can't help but think there is no way I would ever give them a paid job simply because of their attitude towards a freebie project. How could I rely on them to do a paid job when I've seen their slack and unprofessional side?

In the same vein, I've been awarded many high value projects because of the level of professionalism I had for doing a freebie project. And that is direct feedback from the individuals who awarded me a contract of some kind, normally after working together on the board of a not for profit organization together.

These days our personal brand is just as important as our business brand, and in some ways it's even more important. Every single thing we do is either building our personal brand or eroding it - because of this we need to act cautiously in all that we do.