Can I pick your brain?
When did being generous change from giving to taking?
Recently I was reading an article by Deb Zahn called “Can I Pick Your Brain? Is Attempted Robbery, and it struck a chord with me, and then I wondered how many others it might strike a chord with as well?
As time has progressed, how many of you have heard the ” Can I Pick Your Brain for a few minutes? – it won’t take long ” either over the phone or in person?
Your expertise – how long did it take you to develop and accumulate the knowledge that you have? Not minutes I warrant, but accumulated over many years.
I enjoy being able to be generous with the value, time and energy I can give in my market, however that doesn’t mean that I want to let people take it for free. If I did this every time, then the amount of revenue lost would be substantial. Time and Value are two different things and educating others on the difference is an important skill to develop in order to have a sustainable business.
Deb Zahn in her article provides some suggested responses to the “Can I Pick Your Brain?” question. These can be worded in a number of ways, and this will depend on the relationship you have with them, and I quote from her below
- You could just tell them that you are slammed with work and unfortunately do not have the time. You could tell them when you’ll be freed up if they need some help from you. Always frame it in terms of talking about a project, contract, or engagement.
- You could ask them to send you an email describing more of what they are looking for and then send them to a publicly available resource or one of your free resources to help them answer their question. That helps them without you having to do work for free.
- You could talk to them and focus the conversation on uncovering what they need by asking them clarifying questions instead of giving them the solutions or your advice. Then restate what they need and say something like, “I can see why you need help with that. I’d be happy to help, but I’d need to do that under a contract.” This works especially well with situations for which there is not a quick answer that will help them. It also trains them to recognise that you get paid to help.
- If you have someone repeatedly ask you for free consulting, you can say, “It sounds like you have several things you could use my help with, which I’d be delighted to do. I’d be happy to talk about what a scope of work could look like.” That pivots it back to you being paid for your value.
- Sometimes they come clean and admit they were just hoping to just get some free advice. You may want to hold the sarcasm and just state clearly that your livelihood is consulting and you need to get paid for it.
In summary and quoting (@davygreenberg) “If I do a job in 30 minutes it’s because I spent 10 years learning how to do that in 30 minutes. You owe me for the years, not the minutes.