This internet and information age that we're living in has created some exciting opportunities. Today, we have access to information, technology and resources like never before. We live in a hyper-connected time where it's very easy to communicate and interact with potential customers and possible business partners. While all of this has been good for business, it's also created challenges.
With the access has come a flood of people who could and will waste your time if you let them. As busy entrepreneurs, our time is one of our most valuable resources. We can't afford to waste it on what seems important but isn't. We can't let anyone else control our schedule and invade our boundaries. It's smart to watch for the warning signs someone is about to waste your time.
1. They lead with what they want
You've gotten at least a few messages from people on social media or through email who lead with a request. They want you to talk about their business on your networks. They want you to buy from them, even though you know nothing about what they offer. They are asking for something you sell but they want it for free.
When someone's first interaction with you is about them and something they want, run the other way as fast as you can. This is a glaring sign that your whole relationship will be based on that self-centered entrepreneur. Even if you did something for them, it wouldn't be enough. Strong business relationships are formed when there's value added first.
2. They tell you they want to hire you "months from now"
This kind of interaction is designed to make you think the person will be a future customer. They lead with a statement saying they want to hire you months from now but need information or advice first.
This type of entrepreneur has probably done the same thing with many others before you. If they don't have the funds to hire you right now, tell you can have a conversation and answer some questions when they are ready to buy. Don't get suckered into a situation where your precious time is drained by someone promising future business. If they have questions as to the value you provide, they can follow up with your past/current clients or consume your content and assess the value that way.
3. They try to trade, barter or ask for a collaboration before you even know each other
This goes along with the first warning sign. A stranger or someone you casually know approaches you about ways to get your time and knowledge without any money being exchanged. They offer to barter, trade or collaborate before you know, like or trust them. What they offer might not be valuable to you. In each of these type of situations, you have to use your best judgment. These offers just don't make sense after you reach a certain level in your entrepreneurial journey.
4. They try to get the advice your clients pay for
This is very common today. You get social media messages, emails, even calls from people who want the kind of advice your clients pay for. They may ask nicely or they may come at you hard, but they want access to the good stuff just because you're connected.
These types of requests seldom lead to new business, or the right kind of business. Your clients pay you for a reason. Don't let the freebie chasers waste your time. Connection doesn't mean unlimited access to you. No one should have that kind of access except the people in your life who you love.
Each of us gets only one life to live. Every entrepreneur only has 24 hours in a day and seven days in a week. How you spend that time affects every area of your life. It's easy to get sucked into a time wasting situation when you think it could lead to future business -- don't. If someone is ready to buy from you, they won't make you jump through hoops or waste your time. They will have already made a decision based on other factors. Treat your time with the value and importance that it deserves.
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This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editors