Often, at least a few times/week, I have people ask me to host a Skype call with me to ask me about my expertise. I know this is why Clarity was built (and have pushed people to the platform) but what do you say to the person to not sound like a jerk? For context, I had someone blow up at me the other day who said that I should be "donating" my time.
My approach is simple. If it comes from a trusted referal, then I use my free Clarity VIP link and still conduct the call using Clarity. If it comes in cold, and there's no association to a cause, alumni or area of interest, then I just say "I'd love to talk, but I'm heads down with Clarity and other existing commitments - if it's truly urgent and requires my advice, I conduct all these request via Clarity here: http://clarity.fm/danmartell"
That works well and sets the expectations.
Clay Hebert http://clarity.fm/clayhebert wrote a great post about that here:
In my experience "brain pickers" are generally looking for validation from someone they respect or that they consider to be experts. They aren't really interested in what YOU have to say unless it's what they were already thinking.
So I generally ask the large majority of questions such as "what can I help you with?" and then I follow that up with questions like "what have you found out so far... what conclusions have you come to?"
I think you'll find that they do most of the talking.
If it turns out that they truly want your assistance then move the conversation to a more formally structured one by setting up a coaching call. Any serious business person that values what you have to offer will certainly be willing to compensate you for your time.
In fact - that first conversation can be a good screening process to help you decide if you even want to take them on as a client. Anyone that is "insulted" or put off by the fact that you get paid for sharing your wisdom and expertise - things that can help them reach their goals - - is obviously someone that won't value what you have to share.
Best of luck!
Time is money, that's a simple, irrefutable fact. That said, I get a thrill out of people asking to pick my brain; it means that, at least in their eyes, I have developed skills, expertise and knowledge in an area that they themselves are exploring and I have the ability to get them using a GPS rather than an early 20th century compass.
Going back to the time is money thing, I usually evaluate the "can I pick your brain?" people by asking myself: "is this a one-offer or is this person going to keep coming back?" One-offers are generally just seeking reassurance that they're doing the right thing. I have a lot of start-up folks come to me to "pick my brain" and really what they're saying is, "Please tell me I was right to leave my $40,000 a year job to do this." If I get the feeling that that is the case, and the person just needs a pep talk, I'll make time for them after hours when I can sit back, have a beer and chat casually.
The ones that are going to keep coming back aren't looking to just pick my brain, they're looking for a mentor. They're going to be looking for reassurance plus guidance and maybe a little bit of a push in the right direction because they've worn their ideas thin. I do talk with them once or twice but beyond that, I'm straightforward and say, "Look, I've been where you are, I know it's tough and I'm happy to help you but realize that I do what I'm doing for you, for a living. I have to make money at some point. I'm glad to keep going with you but I'll have to invoice you for the time." And that's not to make them feel bad or for you to sound like a jerk, that's to outline very clearly that your time is valuable, just as much as your advice is.
Don't feel like you're sounding like a jerk by stating clearly what you need to get out of a situation. That's business.
Good luck and feel free to get in touch if you need to follow-up!
I give them a link to set up a call via Clarity. Simple and easy for everyone. People are more than happy to pay me for their time, and know they will be getting my best. My website even expressly says that if you have just "one quick question" or would like to "pick my brain," then set up a Clarity call.
Guidance and mentor ship is a crucial leadership skill that we all need. My job relies heavily on operations and walking the talk. Meanwhile, my consultancy relies heavily on understanding what individuals are trying to achieve as end result and how can I contribute to their success. Personally, I found this practice quite useful and time saving.
If you are trying to pick my brain, I need some information from you.
-What is the subject and what are you trying to achieve?
-What is your current progress and what are your challenges/achievements?
-What other potentials ideas you have and how can we work together?
Having "above type" of information saves our time and also allows me to gather some information in advance. We will not spend our time trying to lay the ground work but move immediately towards brains storming session and working towards a positive outcome.
I'm with Dan. If it's someone who is introduced to me through a friend and is local, I'll gladly do coffee. Otherwise I tell them I am super busy and do any calls through Clarity, and then send them the link. If it's just an email, I take my time to reply.
I come across such requests a lot and I'm always surprised that how people don't realize that we as service providers, coaches, consultants, invest a lot of time and money to acquire the knowledge (reading books, attending conferences, taking training, creating free content like blogs and reports etc all) that they just valued as a cup of coffee. Anyways, in the day and age of information being the king yet being pretty vulnerable for the abundance of me-too gurus, this is a challenge we all are facing. I actually named my 1-hr sessions "I need coffee".
I deal such requests with a simple reply asking them to either send me their questions and I'd consider writing a blog post to help everyone that may have such question, OR sign up for my biweekly free group conference call where they can ask me a question and I'd answer live though in a group and time limited format OR if they want 1-on-1 help then booking a call via Clarity (before Clarity I asked them to book a minimum of 1 hr session with me).
So far this has helped me out a lot in weeding out people who have no sincere intentions to ever pay or respect the time and are just wasting both mine and their own time. Also, those who took time to submit questions or sign up for the conference call are pretty qualified and filtered leads that I follow up with.
I always tell people to stop asking and just start asking... It's like my wife telling me "we need to talk". Just talk. But make it inspiring. That's what drives me crazy. Be halfway interesting. Better yet -- me outrageous interesting. We all got time for that. :-)
1. Agree with replying back asking for what they are looking for or more specifics. This helps me understand if its a good use of my time and theirs (perhaps I'm not the right person for the subject or that it does not fit what i am targeting with my time)
2. I set a side a fix chunk of time each week to fill with mentoring or things that are adjacent to core work. For example every Friday from 930-1130. when those get full you offer the following week and the following week etc. This gives you mental boundaries such that you put curbs around doing this.
3. Use Clarity, offer to adjust rate if young or early stage first call (hope to see Clarity rate adjustment codes soon??). The idea that there is a cost tends to vet those who really see a value in the time. i donate mine to www.Good360org and that way its not perceived as "its all about the money"