How to tell if the GIG is a DUD

Woohoo! New business! Isn't this the most exciting thing ever? You get a call from a total stranger. You get a teaser of an incredible business you can do together. And then, you're called in for your first briefing. Rainbows of opportunity explode around you!

But, sadly, freelancing --like any business-- can be a gamble. You can walk into a meeting with high hopes and come out completely dazed, asking yourself, "What the hell happened in there?"

As early as the first meeting, there can be signs that the gig is slowly turning into a dud. The signs can be subtle though, so I advise you to study the situation at hand first. Don't jump to conclusions. Go through the meeting with an open mind and see if these tell-tale signs pop up at all.

1. The briefing turns into brainstorming.
You sit down and your prospective partners start with a show reel of their company's work. You patiently watch thinking that this is the getting-to-know-you portion of your new business partnership. But then, when the lights come back on, they ask you for your opinion on their work and what improvements can be done. Oh, cool! This early and they're already trusting your expertise!
Uh-huh, but here is when your Spidey-sense should start tingling, too.

2. There are no project details given.
You carefully give your two cents on the show reel presented before asking if this is the project you're working on. They don't answer the question directly. Instead, they badger you for more suggestions. You keep mum this time and ask again about the project, scope of work, deadlines, the what-the-heck-am-I-doing-here routine. In unison, they drop the uber vague bomb: "There are no actual deadlines yet. But we have a lot of things to do and they are all urgent."
Mmm... If I were you, I'd start prepping my eject seat at this point.

3. It's become a sharing session.
Alright, you're a professional so you still sit through the whole thing. This time, however, your prospective partners start fishing for your work ethic, for your business acumen. At first, you think they just want to know if your working style matches theirs. But then they say something like, "Oh, you do that? We don't do that. Damn, we should do that." Ha! They're asking you for advise on how to properly run their own biz! It's a freakin' heart to heart and now you're wondering if you signed up for this.

4. The two-hour long non-briefing ends with your prospective partners gushing, "Wow! We covered so much! My team and I will meet about this some more and then we'll call you."
That call never happens by the way. So. Yep. It's a dud.
On that fateful day, you were there so that your brain could be picked, so that your ideas could be harvested --for free! Damn.

Now you can either move on from this experience. Chalk it up to a painful learning curve. Or, you can keep the faith and wait for that call. I mean, who knows? It can still happen.

But, yeeeah... I wouldn't hold my breath.


Popular Posts