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BYDN podcast

When To Do The Work For Free

By April 21, 2020June 20th, 2020No Comments

When should you consider giving away your skills and talents for free and when is it a waste of your time? In this episode of the Build Your Dream Network podcast, Kelly explores requests to “do the work for free” that can pop-up during a career transition or job search and shares real-life examples from her network of how, with a strategic approach, these can be turned into opportunities to build up expertise, showcase talents, and even land dream job or gig.  

Key takeaways from this episode:

Kelly shares three real-life examples from her network of how, with a strategic approach, doing the work for “free” can be turned into opportunities to build up expertise, showcase talents, and even land dream job or gig.

First example of smart “free” is journalist and author Elana Lyn Gross. Elana started a personal blog to develop and showcase her writing skills long before she was paid to write for Forbes, Fortune, Entrepreneur, Cosmopolitan, Business Insider, and many other publications.

The second example, when you should do the work for “free” is Build Your Dream Network (book) interviewee Varelie Croes. Varelie was working for a Big Four accounting firm and on top of her client work, she volunteered to write speeches, create conference agendas for client programs and help on other internal marketing initiatives for the firm.

The final example is another interview pulled from Kelly’s book. Evan Nisselson is a serial entrepreneur and digital media expert, who at one time aspired to be a professional photographer. Evan’s story of doing the work for free to land a job – when he had no work experience in the job he was seeking – is a terrific example of how to stand out when you’re starting out.

In the podcast, you’ll understand in detail:

  • How you can offer your services for free, avenues where you could do this, and why it is absolutely necessary to do “free.”
  • How working for free positioned Elana as a prospect for those looking to hire, built her portfolio, and gave her clarity on the professional route to pursue.
  • You’ll hear Varelie’s story on how “free” helped advance her in the job she had.
  • You’ll see how “free” helped Evan land a job that didn’t even exist in the first place.


  • “If the Free is meaningfully building the network you need, along with your skillset and reputation in the industry you’re working in or the sector you want to work in, it’s valuable and a worthwhile investment of your time.”
  • “Sharing freely can be a smart career move, in any economic scenario, but especially when you’re maneuvering a career transition.”
  • “Even when you have a job there are times when contributing freely is a way to build more connections at work.”

Need more?

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J. Kelly Hoey

J. Kelly Hoey is a problem solver who believes that most professional challenges—whether funding, landing a board position or getting a new job—are solved by tapping into networks.Kelly is a popular speaker on networking, community building and investing issues, especially as they relate to women, and has worked with the IEEE, PGA, Bank of America, Apple and countless others. Follow Kelly on Twitter @jkhoey and on Instagram @jkellyhoey and join the #BYDN community at