One day several months ago, I attended a networking event. There were lot of people in attendance at the event, which was held at a local brewery (as these events tend to be). I walked in and made a b-line straight for the registration table. The woman I initially saw was very kind and immediately commenced to checking me in. While she looked for my name tag in her stack, I looked around the room to see if I knew any of the other attendees. I didn’t have my glasses, so my vision was a bit blurred. My train of thought was interrupted once the woman found my name tag, handing it to me with a smile. I took the name tag and slowly turned to her, attempting to walk away and put my name tag on straight all at the same time. I made my way over to the bar, to get my free drink.
As I stood there waiting for the bartender to begrudgingly pour my Sprite with lime, a woman named Rebecca walked up to me. She smiled warmly and said, “Hi! I’m Samantha! What’s your name?” I smiled back and told her my name. She then asked the question, we were all there to discuss, “What do you do?” I took a short sip of my Sprite and commenced with my elevator pitch. After I’d finished, her eyes got wide and she said, what I knew she would. She said what they all say; the thing I dread every time I tell people what I do. She said, “Oh nice! I’d love to pick your brain!”.
I love talking about digital strategy. I literally could talk about it all day every day to anyone who will listen. But, I can’t. Why? Because time is my product. That’s right, time is my product. Some people sell baked goods and others sell clothing. But me, I sell my time. I used to say that I sell my expertise, but am I really? Expertise can’t be used up. I can’t run out of expertise, per se. I can however run out of time. That is the one thing that I cannot get back. I am paid for my time, the amount I am paid is directly related to my level of expertise. I am paid by the hour and my goal is to provide as much information and insight to my client in that hour. Time is my product.
Can I Pick Your Brain
With this being the case, if someone asks to “pick my brain”, they are essentially asking me for free product. If I had a dollar for every time another consultant asked me, “what should my answer be when someone asks me this?”, I’d be a very wealthy woman.
This is such a hard question to respond to, because if you really do want to help the person, you will want to say yes. But if you say yes to everyone, you are using up time and not getting paid for it. Since we’ve already established that time is my product, you can see how easy it is for me to give away my product for free. If Walmart or Target gave all their products away for free, they would never make any money.
So again, what is the answer? I’m still working on cultivating the most eloquent answer, but I’m just not there yet. Which takes me back to my conversation between Rebecca and I. After she asked the sacrilegious question, I turned to her with a sincere smile and said, “Yes, I’d love to chat more with you about digital strategy and help you create a digital strategy that works for your company. Here’s my card, it has my website address. I provide a link from my website to my calendar. Just go on there and pick a day and time that fits into your schedule.” See, simple. My website does have a link to my calendar and allows you to schedule and pay for a consultation appointment with me.
Like I said, I haven’t found the best way to answer the question, but so far this has worked for me. I’ve had some people complete the form and some not, and that’s ok. So, what about you? Do you ever get that question and if so, how do you answer it?