How to Quit Asking to "Pick Someone's Brain" - Episode 52 – Business Bites

How to Quit Asking to "Pick Someone's Brain"

Episode 52 on the Business Bites Podcast

The Gist Of This Episode: Asking for help is very courageous – but make sure you are coming across as interested and demonstrating value – not entitled and needy!

What you will learn:

  • The message you are sending by asking this
  • How to correctly approach someone for help
  • How to use people’s questions to create content
  • and more!

Expand To Read Episode Transcripts

Hey. Can I have a few minutes of your time, or can I ask you a couple of questions? Nevermind the fact that you’re running a business, have a family, need to dedicate some time to self-care, but I need you guys to help me with my business right now.

All right, so this is Rachel Brenke. I didn’t just cut off the podcast. I wanted to do a nice little hook, because that abrupt feeling that you guys just had with the podcast just now is oftentimes how so many business owners feel when they get random posts in their groups, or messages on their Facebook, or in their email of people wanting to, “Ask a couple of questions, or meet for coffee so I can pick your brain.” Now, before anyone jumps on me I’m gonna say, off the top, that, yes, we should be giving back to other business owners, yes, we should help our industries, yes, we should impart our knowledge, but I also think that there’s a point where this becomes so rude, and so ungrateful, and so just entitled to somebody else’s time for free.

I especially run into this as a business consultant, and a lawyer, because what are my main products? They’re services. It’s my knowledge, right. Even when it comes to being a lawyer running a law firm, the end product of the contracts isn’t really what someone is paying for. They’re paying for the knowledge of what to put into a contract. Whenever someone reaches out to me and wants to pick my brain, or just ask me a couple of questions, even though I have a huge disclaimer on my Facebook profile that says, “I don’t answer business private messages. You need to email me so it goes through the proper channels,” oftentimes this is just ignored, and people just want to ask questions, and I get it. You’re yearning to reach out to someone that you connected to in a Facebook group. I love that. I love that you trust that you want to talk to me, but I also want you guys to consider this a little bit.

Whenever you reach out to somebody and you’re asking for a little bit of their time, think about that you’re probably not the only person doing that. It’s just simple math here. I get thousands of notifications a day. I get tons of personal messages a day of people pulling me in 500 directions. Let’s just say for the example of this mathematical formula that I get five people a day who want just 10 minutes of my time. Five people and 10 minutes is 50 minutes. As it is, we all only get 24 hours in a day, right? That’s assuming we only talk for 10 minutes. Oftentimes quick phone calls and emails end up creeping into 20, 30, maybe an hour.

This is also why I strongly suggest that you guys have everything scheduled out, like I’ve talked in other podcasts, but so that you’re able to stick to a schedule, but it’s hard. Doing the math on this, five people a day times five times a week times 10 minutes. How many minutes is that taking away out of your week? That’s not taking out minutes, that’s taking out hours, which then can cut into time that you could have used for self-care, for you to further and educate yourself to grow. Maybe you wanted to listen to a couple episodes of The Business Bites to help advance your business. It’s time that you could have spent doing administrative tasks, catching up on a to do list, or maybe just sitting on the couch and relaxing with your family.

This podcast is 100% encouraging to those that are getting these messages all the time, you’re not alone, and don’t feel bad if you have to ignore them, or that you have to respond and say, “Hey, if you want to reach out and talk to me, here’s my consulting amount.” Now, yes, I hope you guys are doing some give-back opportunities, and that’s why I, even though I sell consulting times, and we have paid meeting times, I still will do free speaking events, or donate to different organizations to be able to help other entrepreneurs learn.

This podcast, those that are listening, those that are sending these messages, please understand that while it’s flattering to receive these, it becomes exhausting, because then it is putting guilt on those that don’t have the time to respond. It is also showing a demonstration, whether you realize it or not, of the lack of value that you may have for this business consultant, or lawyer, or CPAs, or coach, insert any other title. It’s showing a lack of value for the knowledge and services that they sell, because you’re, essentially, asking it for free.

It’s like you walking into a restaurant and sitting down and saying, “Hey, can I just have two mozzarella sticks, instead of the eight that come, and not having any offer of payment, or any interest in showing that you plan on staying for a whole meal.” That’s exactly what it looks like, and feels like, when you’re sending out these mass solicitations of asking people to help you.

Now, I struggled with doing this podcast, because I don’t really know if I’ll ever drop this link into groups, or to respond to someone with this, because I never want to hurt someone’s feelings, especially if they’ve taken this big step just to reach out and ask for help, but at the same time I need to stand up, and maybe this is the way I do it, maybe I won’t even publish this episode at all, but I want to stand up and say, “I am valuable. My time is valuable. Please, fellow entrepreneurs, can you see that, too?”

You know what’s funny is if I have someone that comes to me and 100% is like, “I want to pay you for your time. I want to do this and do that,” I’ll end up going to the ends of the Earth, more and more to try to help. Maybe you book an hour and we end up talking for two. Why is that? Because then I see that you demonstrate a value in me, because I want to pour back into you. It doesn’t feel like you’re just trying to use, and take, right? Sure, the math may not work on that, and they’ll be some critics that decide to email me, should I publish this episode, saying, “Well, you gave us this whole math problem, and you’re talking about giving away time,” but it’s not even just about the time, it’s about the value, and the entitlement, that’s attached to these requests and these inquiries.

Let’s shift gears here a little bit, now that I’ve laid this all out. If you are somebody that is seeking information from somebody else, and you want help because you connected with this person online, you love their brand, you love what they’re doing, you love what they represent, and you want to learn from them, how can you reach out to them and get to know them on a personal level? How can you reach out and get this information from them?

well, I’ve kind of already said it. Take the proper channels and reach out to them through the services that are already provided. The majority of people these days, many influencers, offer some sort of capacity for you to be able to learn from them, whether it’s an online course, or it’s a one-to-one, or maybe they have open study hall-type groups, or open Facebook lives that you can ask questions. Seek those opportunities out, because there’s a reason that these influencers, brands, whatever you want to call them, the people that you want to learn from, are offering those. Those are mechanisms that they can give back, and they can teach, and they can connect with you, and it’s a little bit more on their own terms, helping them to safeguard their time.

Another thing to consider when you reach out to talk to someone, or to ask them a question, is don’t just say, “Hey, tell me everything you can about publishing a children’s book.” I get that one a lot, and actually I love talking about the children’s book topic, which is why I’ve recorded a whole video on it, and it sits on Total little shameless plug there, but my point of saying that is, I get those questions a lot, so I provided a resource to be able to answer that. Then, after that we can connect one-to-one.

By coming to someone who already has an existing resource that tells you, in this very general question that you provided, a big high-level view of what you need to know, that may answer a lot of your questions for you, and by going through that resource that’s already out there by the person that’s received a lot of these questions, that has created this resource for you, they are able to be able to focus when you do get one-to-one on more of those specific nuance questions that you have.

The next step, like I just outlined, would be to look for the resources that are available. Look at your questions that you’re asking. Is it too general, or is very narrow? How is it that you’re going to approach and ask this person to freely give of their time, but make it so that it’s beneficial for them, as well. If someone emails me, and they have very specific question, I can very specifically answer that and help you get going on your way, and I’m not gonna go through the fanfare of sending you down to my consultancy page. If you send me a general question that says, “Tell me everything about running an online business,” man, I’d be there all day. I would never get anything else done, and I would not be able to do the stuff that makes money to feed my five kids. Respect and time and make sure that your questions you are asking are very specific, or look for the resources, because many times a lot of us already have this existing for you.

Switching back gears. To those that may feel like I’m feeling, who feel like I’m pulled from all directions, being asked of freely all the time, it’s okay. You’re not the only one. Know that you are in good company. Don’t feel discouraged, and feel empowered and excited that people want you for you, right. I always remind myself that I would rather have these messages coming at me than not at all. People want me, they want my knowledge, and I’m happy to share it, but that’s when I need to take the steps.

If I’m getting a lot of the same questions, then I need to put out either a free blog post, or even paid resources that I can direct people to. If I don’t offer coaching, or consultancy services, what can I offer in lieu of that? Try to brainstorm some of those ways so you can still be able to provide your knowledge to other people. If you guys go back to Episode 51, which is right before this at, I actually talk with Cyrissa Carlson of The Sparkle Society about adding teaching to part of your business for diversification of income streams. She works, very specifically in the photography industry, but we talked extensively in the podcast about teaching others and the way that you can do that. If you need tips on how to teach, and I don’t necessarily mean creating a course. It can be offering consult services, creating a course, creating a book, a blog post, social media post, Facebook Live, hop over to Episode 51, and you guys can get some tips on how to help you with that.

Hope you guys understand that this episode is coming from a good place of my heart. I want to encourage those that are being pulled in all directions that it’s a good thing that you’re being sought after, just come up with the best resources and ways that you can still provide help to others without dragging yourself through the ground of time and not be able to focus on your businesses.

For those of you that are seeking information, please keep seeking. Please don’t let this episode dissuade you in any capacity, just make sure that you’re doing it with a right heart, and the right place. Respect other people’s time, and just develop a personal relationship. I’m more than happy to sit down with people locally, or even online, that I also have a personal relationship with, and it just doesn’t feel one-sided. Remember, I have a cup that also needs filled just like you’re wanting your cup filled, so if we fill one another’s then we’re able to work better together, and all of our industries and knowledge are elevated, and we all have a higher potential for success. Thank you, guys, for listening to this episode. I know it’s a little bit different than what I normally talk about, but it’s something that’s been on my heart as an educator and influencer, and I encourage you guys to keep learning and thank you for tuning in to this episode of The Business Bites.

About the author

Rachel Brenke is a lawyer, author and business consultant. She is currently helping professionals all over the world initiate, strategize and implement strategic business and marketing plans through various mediums of consulting resources and legal direction.

Hi, I’m Rachel Brenke

Rachel Brenke

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