#AskLT: When Should I Charge a Consultation Fee?

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You've got questions ... and I've got answers (hopefully). In this new column, I share a word of advice on everything from work to wellness and everything in between. Let's dig in, shall we?

Q: “How do you manage "reverse mentoring"? Sometimes, I can't tell if I'm selling myself short of paid consulting work when an older, more established professional is picking my brain over coffee. They're very complementary and want to learn from me, especially about marketing and strategy from a Millennial/Gen Z perspective, but I don't know at what point I draw the line for charging for consulting work if I'm not getting much out of it.” ~ M.

A: Interestingly enough, I haven't had too many "reverse mentoring" situations (love that name, btw); however, this is regardless of age, if it's not a mutually beneficial relationship, then it may not be worth your time. Hear me out: there are exceptions to every "rule." For example, I have a sweet spot for college students/recent college graduates, meaning I will almost always help them out. I realize I didn't get where I am on my own, so I believe it's important for me to pay it forward.

But your instincts are absolutely right in that this is veering into consultation work, especially considering how millennial/Gen Z marketing is so profitable right now. If these are trusted contacts who've helped you out before or they've been introduced by a mutual contact, you could consider it returning the favor.

If, however, these are essentially randos sliding into your proverbial DMs, then it may help to have a handy one-pager with your rates available to send them. Something like, "That's a great question, Bob. I'm happy to help you out! My rate for consultations typically starts at $100/hour, and here's a document where you can learn more about my services." This removes the awkwardness of the coffee date vs. consultation convo and keeps you from feeling like shit when the former veers into the latter sans compensation.

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