Can I pick your brain?

Can I pick your brain?

Can I pick your brain?

Do you ever get asked ‘Can I pick your brain’?  I do constantly.  By people who have been given an inch in the past and then want to come back and take a mile.

These, without fail, are people who I have helped for free in the past and then think they can take advantage of this generosity.

I really do find it incredible how often people who already a decent income, and would never dream of giving anything themselves, will ask for time and information that will make or save them a significant amount of money, but they aren’t prepared to pay for the answer.

Among messages I have received are:

  • Can I pick your brain?
  • Just a quick question to run by you…
  • Let’s meet up for a coffee. I have something I would love to chat with you about.
  • How about lunch so I can have a chat about my business? My shout for a sandwich and a coffee.

Hmm, now let me think about these for a moment …

How about NO!!!

A sandwich and a coffee aren’t going to pay my bills.  The time I spend on lunch would also be wasted time that could be better spent looking after my paying clients.

But for some people, they honestly believe that I should give them my valued time and attention for nothing.  They think they should pay absolutely zero for:

  • The wisdom I have found from the hundreds of books I have read
  • The lessons I have learnt from the thousands of hours I have studied
  • The expertise I have built up whilst gaining my qualifications and accreditations
  • The knowledge I have gained from the mentors and coaches I have worked under
  • The practical experience I have from working with hundreds of small businesses over the years
  • The insights to the mistakes I have made whilst building my own businesses and how to avoid them
  • The solutions I have found from the thousands I have spent in learning and practical applications
  • The know-how and learning I continue to build daily from running my own successful business

They don’t want to put the time and effort in to learn all this themselves.  They ask to pick my brain to get all this for free.

And I bet you get asked this too.  Too often we want to help everyone and start to feel guilty for saying no to free requests.  Go write down all the things that you have learned that are of value to others like I have done above.  And when someone asks you for free advice for the umpteenth time, go back to this list and realise how much your knowledge is worth.  I’m not saying don’t give away free info when building relationships but I am saying turn away those that your gut is telling you are taking you for a ride.

When I get these type of requests now, I tend to reply with:

“Thanks for reaching out to me but my diary is so packed at the moment that I can only take calls and meet with paying clients. Thanks for understanding.  And of course, if you would like to see me as a paid client you can book at …”

And do you know what happens next?  9 times out of ten I never hear from them again.  Surprise surprise!

Not my ideal client in the slightest.

So when you get asked if ‘Can I pick your brain’ again in the future and aren’t sure how to reply, try my message above.  Be fair both to yourself and to those that value you enough to pay for your services.  You are worth it.

For more ideas on how to respond read How To Deal With The “Grab A Coffee Request