Most consultants and many other professional individuals encounter “Brain Pickers” from time to time.
It is an occupational hazard to come in contact with someone who wants your knowledge and expertise without paying for it. Lord knows I’ve done it a few times myself.
But the rub to me is when they want to have a meeting, ostensibly to utilize your services, but then spend 30 minutes to an hour asking questions, and then stand up, shake your hand, and thank you for the information, and walk away.
I don’t mind giving out free advice, but I strongly object to having a meeting under false pretenses. When that happens I feel like I’ve been lied to. If you want to pick my brain, then tell me—I’ll gladly let you pick away. But don’t tell me you want to learn about my services because I might be able to help you, and then after you’ve gotten what you wanted just walk away.
To me that is rude and unethical.
I had one like that today. In addition to picking my brain, he wanted to talk to me about his services. Fortunately, I was very familiar with his product so he wasn’t able to give me a sales presentation.
Advice to “Brain Pickers”
Tell the individual that you want to pick their brain. You might want to offer to buy them lunch as a form of compensation. I suspect most will be flattered that you consider them knowledgeable enough to want to learn from them.
Advice to the Picked Brains
Be gracious and give the information freely and willingly. You never know where a referral or potential client could come from, and this “Brain Picker” could ultimately be a client, or provide a good referral.
Should you desire, my brain is available for picking. Just be up front that you want to get my thoughts, and I’ll be happy to provide them.
Come with questions in mind. Write them down so you are sure to get them all answered and don’t miss anything. There is no such thing as a “dumb” question, never assume you know what the answer will be.
I’ll gladly help each of you if you are interested.
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