Have you ever been in a situation where someone asks to meet up with you for a coffee or lunch, and when you get there you realise they want a free ‘pick your brain’ session?!
I’ve been in this situation more times than I would like to admit. Nobody wants to be in a situation they feel bamboozled into and be taken advantage of.
And, you cannot say yes to every request – this takes away time and energy away from your own priorities.
Here are three simple ways to handle (and get out of) a free ‘pick your brain’ session.
- Clarify why the person wants to meet with you
When someone reaches out, ask questions first to find out what they want and decide whether a meeting is necessary. Oftentimes, you can help by simply signposting them to a resource such as a book, podcast, video or network group.
For example, you can reply:
“Thanks for your question. Here’s a great [book/podcast/video/networking group] that deals with [particular topic] that I think you’ll find helpful.”
Deciding whether you want to meet
If you are too busy or prefer to not meet up right now, you can suggest a future coffee or lunch date. Alternatively, you can also give them the option of having a quick 20-minute phone/Zoom call or ask them to email you their top three questions.
When you do decide to meet up
If you decide to kindly give someone your time, remember you don’t have to answer any questions that make you feel uncomfortable. If someone wants to know the ins-and-outs of your career/business and you do not want to go into detail, you can give a general answer.
For example, you can say:
“I don’t feel comfortable going into detail on [particular topic], but generally I would say it’s a good idea to think about [offer advice/guidance on things they can consider about the particular topic]
- BONUS – Invite them to employ your services
If people want to pick your brain about something you get paid to do, it’s perfectly reasonable for you to ask them to hire you.
For example, you can say:
“Thanks for reaching out! I’d love to work with you to help you solve this problem. The best way to do this is to set up a call and work out an action plan that works best for you. My consultation fee is….”
- EXTRA BONUS
To get some real-life examples on how to say “no” to people who want to pick your brain, can check out this video by Marie Forleo.
It can be a challenge knowing how to respond to someone who wants your time. You can’t say “yes” to every request without sacrificing your own priorities. However, learning to confidently say “no” without feeling guilty or being afraid to burn bridges takes practice.
This is why it is important to be assertive so you can implement your boundaries, respect your time and communicate effectively.
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