A lot of people want something for nothing. How many times has someone asked you if they could “pick your brain” or mentioned that they want to collaborate with you? What does “collaborate” even mean? Many times they want your expertise for free.
To run a successful business, you must make a profit. Realizing that giving a certain amount of advice for free helps build your customer base, a natural tendency may be to help whomever you can. But you cannot be a doormat. You must maintain respect for yourself, your business and your brand. You have value, and it’s your job to maintain your value.
The next time someone wants to “pick your brain,” do these six things:
1. Decide whether to respond or not.
Conduct Internet research on the individual to determine business potential. Have you heard of them? Are they reputable? Do they work at a company with resources? Gather the information you need to decide whether this individual is worth your time.
2. Offer availability on weeknights or weekends.
If you see a potential business opportunity, respond to the request and maintain control over your time. Let them know that you reserve weekdays for clients, and offer your weeknight and weekend availability for “brain picking.” Alternatively, offer your availability at a later date when you may be less busy.
If the person wants something for free, they must be willing to sacrifice their personal time or wait for you. You need to keep business hours for people willing to do business with you. If the person wants to speak sooner or at a more convenient time, they will understand that they must pay for your time.
3. Keep the conversation to 20 minutes.
Keep “brain picking” sessions to 20 minutes (tip: phone conversations are easier to keep short than in-person conversations). Reserve 30 minute (the shortest, generally acceptable duration to bill) or longer sessions for paying clients. If the individual wants more time with you, tell them what you charge. Your time is valuable.
4. Add value.
If you schedule a “brain picking” session, this is your chance to position yourself for a paying opportunity. This is time to add value and for them to see that your value is directly applicable to them, their organization or their situation.
Demonstrate that you understand their goals, priorities and challenges. Do a quick Google search to gain insight on this information. The more they see you understand them, the more likely they will want to do business with you.
5. Communicate exactly what you can do for them.
Don’t make it difficult for the person to know how you can help them. Share with them a few ideas so they know how to move forward with you in a formal, paying capacity.
6. Make it easy for money to flow.
The easier you can make it for money to exchange hands, the more likely someone will pay you. If you have a website, send them the website link and directions for how to pay you electronically before the conversation takes place.
If people come to you because they want to learn your thoughts, knowledge and perspective, don’t lose sight of your value. Follow these steps to get on track to making money and maintain your brand and self-respect. Your business depends on it.
More Info: forbes.com