I get a lot of people calling to “pick my brain.” I don’t know what’s in there that they’re so interested in, but apparently there’s something. But after talking with a few friends who get the same requests, I’ve come up with a few things you need to be aware of before you ask:
1. We don’t think much of it, and we’re too casual about it. But the truth is, it’s a real imposition on very busy people. Don’t necessarily stop trying, just realize that you’re asking someone to take a block of time and dedicate it to you. They have better things to do, so be grateful.
2. Come prepared. I’m amazed at the number of “pick your brain” people who show up unprepared. Don’t diddle away the time. Come with questions. If you’re not going to prepare, why should I waste my time?
3. Pick up the tab. I’m shocked at the number of people who ask me out to lunch or for coffee to “pick my brain,” and then expect me to pick up the tab. I’ve just spent an hour helping you with your career, and now I have to pay for it? Might as well stamp “Don’t Meet with Me Ever Again” on your forehead.
4. Stop talking. If you want to pick my brain, then listen dang it. You can’t find out what I think if you do all the talking. You may be nervous, but learn to shut up and listen. After all, that’s what you’re there for, isn’t it?
5. Finally, respect the situation. If I’m speaking at a conference, I have a lot on my mind, I’m stressed, and I’m focused on my talk. “Picking my brain” at that moment is a really bad idea. If you want results, make sure your target is relaxed, and can focus on your situation.
I don’t mean to sound crabby, and I love helping people achieve their dreams (that’s why I write my blog and books.) But so few really think about the situation, circumstances, and purpose, that they ruin a potentially great situation.
Think, before you ask….