An attorney from a prominent, 200 lawyer firm calls me up (message) saying he’s been referred by two very credible sources. And they are exceptionally credible. Most of the time when this happens, it’s a law firm looking for internet marketing services. In fact, earlier in the day another local law firm called about exactly that.
Anyway, this attorney and I play phone tag and we finally connect. He wants to have me come to his office and speak with their ecommerce/technology group and talk about Google advertising. He asks if I can sit in on an informal lunch and ask me questions about search marketing. Just for an hour or so.
There’s an awkward silence.
I finally say, “The reason I’m not responding is that I’m thinking about all the times people have made this kind of request of me before and I have to ask, Why would I do this?”. The attorney’s response is something to the effect of, “The cost of time for you is low and there’s a possible reward in the form of referrals.” He also pointed out that his law firm was not a competitor.
I’m rolling my eyes as I hear this and I’m thinking, you’ve got to be kidding me. You want someone that’s been referred to you as a “top guy” to come in for free on the speculation that there might be some kind of referral?
Let’s turn this around. Let’s say I ask a few law firm clients of mine that are tops in their industry or market and ask them for a specialist attorney. They both refer me to the same person. Then I call that specialist up and say, “Hey, how would you like to come down to my agency and talk to my team about intellectual property law? It’s possible that someday our clients my need a IP legal help and if so, we might refer them to you.”
Now you and everyone else reading this post knows that in almost all cases, an attorney would want, would require, they be compensated for spending time educating a company on a particular area of their expertise.
I told the attorney at the end of our call that I would think about it and follow up Monday. He replied that I might refer someone else if it didn’t work out with me. Then I wrote this blog post, called him back and said I didn’t need until Monday, that I knew now it wasn’t going to work out and that I would be hard pressed to refer someone else because I wouldn’t want to embarrass or insult someone by making such a referral for a situation that was not willing to pay for the time and expertise.
Was I completely out of line? How would you handle this differently? I’m sure he’ll find some stooge to give the free advice. I’ve been stooged plenty of times by information suckers and SEO parasites on the phone. However, I think you have to value your time and services and just say no in situations like this.