I have recently realized that I have started to wear a new hat. It is still a consulting hat, but it doesn’t pay anything.
I talk to 3-4 companies a week that are looking for… something. Programmer’s graphics work, CSS, Database expertise, hosting recommendations (http://rackspace.com) and so on.
They aren’t looking to hire me (although 2-3 of them a week really should be looking to hire someone like me). They are calling me because I am a reference for some other company I have hired/engaged with in the past.
This should be a very simple and brief thing for me to manage. But I have a curious nature, and I always try to draw out of them what they plan on building, who their market is, etc. It is amazing how much people will tell you after you’ve done them a favor. And I do offer them advice if and when I can – several of those companies still contact me – long after hiring that developer or artist.
So on one hand, it is hours that I can’t bill for. On the other, it is information that I couldn’t buy.
So I don’t mind listening, and helping where I can – and learning whenever I can. Maybe this is a first step in my goal to becoming a great mentor (earlier post today)