I run a digital marketing agencies with few co founders. Actually we are developing a product on influencer/blogger marketing. Tomorrow we have 3-4 bloggers/influencers coming to our office to provide some inputs on it. It will be great if you can come for sometime. Would be happy to have you. I will make u meat my team and some influential friends as well. Thought of your name Since you are really good at blogging. We are having this meet at 12pm at our office.

 

For context, I’ve met the person who wrote the above message a handful of times. Always in-passing. With not more than a few words exchanged. While I was aware that they run a digital marketing agency of some sort, we’d never worked together or even discussed work. I was surprised by their out-of-the-blue Whatsapp message no less. My number was given to them by someone else without my permission. ( Very few people *cough* MEN *cough* in India seem to be aware of the concept of “consent”. If someone asks you for my number, and you have it, you ask ME first whether you have permission to share my number with whoever’s asking for it. In almost all cases, I will tell you to ask them to email me. Don’t call me. )

“If you can come for sometime…” Seriously? Just because your office happens to be located “close” to where I live, that’s reason enough to ask me to waste my time?

My response :

Unfortunately I need at least a week’s notice for any in-person meeting or event. I’m happy to provide inputs to help develop your product on a paid consulting basis. If your team would like to setup a meeting, I’m happy to share my experiences and insights & answer specific questions for an hour for Rs. X inclusive of taxes. Will need a week’s notice, a 100% advance and a 10 minute phone call to understand more about what you need to know so I can prepare my notes accordingly.

To which they responded with :

Hi Naina, thanks for the detailed message. Much much appreciated. It was more of a friendly invite. We were calling close friends. I will definitely keep your name in mind if some good collaboration comes. Cheers bud!

Look. I get it. We’re all trying to sell something, setup something, run a business, make money. As much as I would love to provide any form of assistance to everyone I’ve ever met or even exchanged words with on email or on any of the various social media platforms, it is not humanly possible to do that. There is this resource that we all have called “time”. Time is limited. I’m careful where and how I spend my time. I’m careful to keep a track of what value I am getting in exchange for spending my time doing something. Doesn’t matter if it’s work or leisure. There’s always some value being derived when spending time.

Disingenuous ways of communicating why I should spend time helping your business make money, with not even an indication of the value I might expect in return, is not something I’m keen on. ( “But they would have definitely sent clients your way once their product was setup!” Really? Where’s the dotted line where I can get their signature on attesting to this definitive client business? The bigger assumption being there’s any merit to this product in the first place. If they’re not even willing to invest in setting up the goddamned product, how valuable could it possibly be?! )

We’re definitely not friends. It is possible for a lifelong friendship to emerge from a chance encounter over a couple of coffees one evening. But this was not it. Sometimes, we can’t be friends. Acquaintances at best. Close friends? You’ve got to be fucking kidding me. Stalking me on social media doesn’t count as “friendship”.

And my friends pay me. Or at the very least, they offer to pay me. Whether I agree to take their money or turn it down and do what I do best for free, is my prerogative.

I don’t give a rats ass how you run your business. But I will not let you waste my time for it. My time is precious and I charge for spending it on YOUR business. I know it isn’t culturally accepted to do that in India unless you’re a white person – preferably a man.

Pretend I’m a white man & let’s do this.

 

More anecdotes and stories in the #WTFNaina series. ( These are all inspired by true stories. Some written emails, some from face-to-face meetings. They have all been piling up for years now and I’ve decided to put them to use! )

 

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