POLL: How Often Do People Ask You For A Hookup?

Is the expectation that you'll offer your products or services for free a minor annoyance or a drag on your business?

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Felicia Joy of Ms. CEO Inc. has a ready answer for those seeking her firm's services for little or no pay.

One of the challenges facing many black small business owners, and especially new and less experienced entrepreneurs, is tradition of the hookup: the expectation that black entrepreneurs will give away their products and services for free–or “hook a brother/sista/cousin/etc. up”–because the patron is a friend or relative, and often just because both the business owner and the would-be patron are black. For years, I’ve railed against those who constantly expect to be hooked up, telling them that they are doing a disservice to black entrepreneurs, creating a drag on the growth and profitability of small black-owned businesses, and putting a damper on the economic vitality of black communities. (For more, check out my post, “Why I Hate The Hook-Up.”) On this week’s edition of The Urban Business Roundtable, the radio show I host for WVON-AM Chicago, I stressed that getting consumers to stop looking for a hook-up is only part of the solution; business owners need stop handing them out.

Felicia Joy, CEO of Ms. CEO Inc. and Joy Group International and host of The Ms. CEO Show, a weekly talk radio program, has dealt with more than her share of would-be clients seeking a hookup.

“People (especially potential clients for entrepreneurship coaching) often ask me to work for very little pay, or they try asking me questions to get valuable information and insights without paying for them,” says Joy. “I used to try to work with people, thinking that it was a money issue, but I have come to understand that more often it’s a mentality issue.

“My response now is, ‘I understand where you are coming from but my rate is firmly X per hour. When do you think you’ll have that amount?’,” Joy adds. “If the person is unwilling to commit to a time frame,  I know they’re not serious and I tell them to call me when they’re ready; then I move on and forget it. This has also challenged me to begin developing more products (books and CDs) that I can sell at a $25 or less price point–and reach more people–rather than shortchanging and burning out myself.”

How often do people expect you, as a business owner, to hook them up? Is it a rare event, a common but minor annoyance, or a real drag on the growth and profit-potential of your business? Take our poll and share your experience on this subject, and as well as your take on the issue and how you deal with it.


  • I’ve had this happen a few too many times, but my biggest issue is people asking me to cover their product or company and giving me a ridiculously unprofessional presentation (i.e., the cover letter without describing what they want from me, the random link to visit their site without any clear indication of why I should care, the company that asks you to cover their event but won’t grant a media pass and wants you to pay). I just think a simple Business 101 class would take care of so much of this.

  • This is a great article. I wrote a blog a while back towards the same point that many young especially black entrepreneurs have friends and family that expect you to give them the proverbial “hook up” because you all are  “tight” or blood not realizing that you are putting work and effort into the task that if were for anybody else would not be free. It was one of the biggest reasons why I decided to write Do You Mind If I Pay You in Gum http://www.africahannibal.com/?p=103. People need to think of it like this, You wouldn’t want anyone to come to your job and say hey hook me up every time they showed up, you would feel used. As well as you maybe fired for making the company lose money and business owners lose money every time they provide someone with a Hookup.

  • jeremiah919

    I tend to believe this is a perception more than a universal truth. Mind you sales in general is a give and take transaction, the essence being the barter systems the African civilizations of old invented. Every culture barters, but I think we fight the negative stigma the imperial nations of the world impose on anything the African does. It’s the deeper psychology here. What you need to ask yourself is are you exposed to other cultures on an intimate level enough so that you are making a fair and valid comparison and as well, ask yourself what level of education and socioeconomic background is this person affiliated with, exposed to or from, those are big markers and indicators. LISTEN… when a person is from the hood its a HOOK-UP, if the person is corporate its called NEGOTIATIONS

  • jeremiah919

    I tend to believe this is perception more than a common place occurrence. Remember the essence of a sale is give and take, descendant from the barter system and trade routes invented and proliferated in Africa. The issue here is the deeper psychology. Every culture looks for an affiliation when doing business and a reward for commonality, whether it be a little more attention or a savings on cost. What we’re fighting here is the negative stigma given things done by the African when being judged by the imperial nations. What you must ask yourself is do I have enough of an intimate relationship with cultures outside my own, to make this assertion as well, ask yourself what is this persons socioeconomic status, what affiliations might they have (religion, style, etc.) and what is their level of education, because these are important markers and indicators as to the quality of a business to client interaction. Don’t feed into the negativity given the African by the imperial nations. LISTEN if you are from the HOOD it’s a HOOK-UP, if you are CORPORATE it’s called NEGOTIATIONS. We just need to get more Africans with less education to understand the art of a good negotiation.

  • Whether you’re from the hood or from corporate, it’s negotiations whenever both sides feel that a transaction is bringing them something of value, even if it’s not monetary. However, if you are expected to give up your products or services without receiving any compensation at all, monetary or otherwise, THAT is a hookup, from the streets to the executive boardroom. The something-for-nothing mentality is less prevalent in corporate America than in the hood simply because corporations are not confused or conflicted about the profit motive. They know that you don’t generate profits by investing your resources into your business and then simply giving your products and services away.