Why do some people think training for free is a good idea?

Photo by tommao wang on Unsplash

As a self-employed trainer, I am occasionally asked to deliver training for free and not always for altruistic reasons. People approach me and ask me to deliver courses or talks but for no payment.

The argument is that the event is an opportunity to showcase my training, and someone might be impressed enough to actually pay me to deliver a class. It is like asking someone to clean your house for free before a party, as one of the guests might be so impressed by the cleaning that they might hire you as their cleaner.

Payment-less work does allow practising and trying something new and untested. Practice is the route to high performance.

I have spoken to colleagues about this do it for free culture; actors, musicians, and artists all indicate they often get asked to provide their services for free.  I have spoken to kitchen staff who have been requested to provide long unpaid shifts to restaurants disguised as trial showcase opportunities.

It does not feel virtuous to do these free gigs, and sometimes it feels disrespectful, and we all deserve respect. The equation needs to be balanced. If some organisation asks for more than is offered, and I accept this, I support their exploitation. The free gig needs to offer enough opportunity and practice to match the service provided. 

People value what they pay for, and when they get something for free, they are inclined to view it as less valuable than something they have paid for. The free service is always of less value to the requesting organisation than the paid-for service. And providers can also value a free service less than one where they are getting paid.

What do you think about this payment-less culture?

 Is it an opportunity to highlight skills, get invaluable practice and evaluate new offerings, or is it manipulative and disrespectful?

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