At least once a month someone asks me if they can “pick my brain.” Can we just talk about how weird that phrase is? Where did it even come from? It sounds incredibly painful. Does it require an anesthesiologist?
To a lot of professionals (myself included), being asked this question can be insulting. This is a big complaint in the social media manager community and I’ve heard professionals in other industries complain about it as well.
The majority of the time, the brain picker offers the brain pickee a cup of coffee in exchange for them getting to ask an infinite number of questions of the expert. The expectation is typically an hour of your time. So let’s break this down:
$3 cup of coffee x 1 hour = $3 an hour.
People get paid a lot more than that to be experts in their field.
Not only can it be insulting, it comes across as selfish. You get tons of information and the expert gets a grande Pike Place.
I don’t want to seem like a complete Negative Nancy here. I genuinely do enjoy helping people, I have just learned that I have to put limits on what I say “yes” to. I’m always open to sitting down with friends and family (if you have my cell number, you fall under this category), people working with nonprofits, kids needing help with their social media or parents needing help with their children’s, and students.
And I completely understand why people request this of experts. They want to learn and that’s great, but there’s a better way that’s more respectful of everyone’s time. Here’s how you can still get the information you want, without performing the classic brain pick:
(1) Ask the expert for their email address and email them your questions. I guarantee they’ll be a lot more receptive when the correspondence can be done on their time.
(2) Ask the person for their hourly fee. Then pay them appropriately for their time.
(3) Research your questions online. Google is your friend. Chances are the answers you’re seeking have been answered thousands of times on various websites.
(4) Find classes, either online or ones you can attend locally, on the topic.
(5) Find a mentor. This involves establishing genuine relationships with people. Once there’s an established connection, professionals will be more open to helping you.