“Would you mind if I picked your brain?”
You get this question, I’m sure. You’re an attorney. Or an accountant. Or a doctor. You’re a senior manager or a business owner. You have experience. You have knowledge. And now someone wants to tap into that knowledge. For free. Do you let him?
This is how you earn your living, isn’t it? And now, just because it’s after hours and drinks are being served, this complete stranger thinks it’s OK to basically get free advice from you. He has a problem. He’s looking for help. He knows that you charge for this kind of advice. But he doesn’t seem to care. What’s a couple questions, anyway, between friends? What other reasons are there to network than to meet new people and learn new things, right?
So what do you do when this situation occurs? You can be a jerk and tell the guy that you’re more than happy to help him if he wants to call the next day to schedule an appointment. Or you can just give in and offer him the advice that he wants. You can act annoyed. Or you can be gracious. You can turn and walk away in disgust. Or you can put down your drink, ask the guy to take off his shirt, and examine that strange looking hairy mole on his back right there in the middle of the party. What’s the best move?
How about this move: you thank the person for asking and offer whatever advice you can.
You earn plenty. You have customers and clients. You’re doing fine. Yes, of course you’d like to be doing better. And yes, it’s human nature to not want to give something away for nothing. And sure, there will be some people that will take advantage of your kindness. But you’re fortunate. You are making a living. And here’s a complete stranger that is asking you for help. And you genuinely may be able to help this person. So help him. Let him pick your pick brain, because two things will come out of it.
- You’ll feel better about yourself because giving is always better than getting. That’s your humanitarian and benevolent side. You’re a good person. And you care about others. This is doing something nice.
- You’ll get your money in the end. Maybe you’ll never see that guy again. Or maybe that guy will appreciate your advice and think you are so smart that he’ll be calling you first thing the next day to offer a million dollar contract. That probably won’t happen. But what will likely happen is that he’ll eventually walk away appreciating your help and valuing your knowledge. He will tell others. He will remember. Someone in his network of friends will have a similar hairy mole on their back and ask him for a recommendation or remember that he liked you. What comes around really does go around.
So let people pick your brain. Give your advice away for free. Don’t get defensive and don’t be annoyed. Be grateful instead. This is not a burden. It’s an opportunity to help. You’ll get your compensation someday. I guarantee it.