I received an email message with a one-word subject line “Hi” from someone with a non-English name, perhaps South Asian. My immediate instinct was to mark it “spam” and delete it, but I opened it anyway. The message was from someone that could be a prospective client, who asked if I would be interested in editing and improving flow of a 4-page, 1,500-word write-up of his research consisting of an abstract, methods and results. From his writing style it was clear that English was his second language. The message wasn’t written well, and there was no identifying signature to tell me who he was. However, there was another message from him in my inbox. Evidently he came across my profile on LinkedIn, and wanted to connect with me.
From his LinkedIn profile I learned that he was a postdoctoral research fellow at a Canadian University, originally hailing from India. So I responded to his message, and told him that I could help him, and gave him a rough estimate of time and cost. It would probably take me 6-8 hours, maximum 10, to revise, improve flow and make the abstract readable. That would include 1 revision. I also told him that because he is a postdoc, I would consider helping him at a reduced fee from what I usually charge my clients.
He responded immediately, asking if I could give him a further discount. I asked him to tell me what is his budget, and I will see if I can try and work within it. Without hesitation, he responded "$100". I immediately wanted to respond, but then decided that the best response would be not responding…
Perhaps I should have followed my initial instinct, and marked his message “spam” and delete it immediately. And, no, I did not accept his invitation to connect on LinkedIn.