Business 101: Stop Letting People Pick Your Brain! How to Put Boundaries Around Your Knowledge
The words “Pick your brain” roughly translated into entrepreneur means “Please tell me what you’ve invested time and energy (and most often money) in learning for free”.
Not only that, but the main culprits for brain-picking tend to be the people who never (EVER) invest any of their own time or money in acquiring that knowledge.
The end result is you end up sharing what other people pay you for with someone who doesn’t even appreciate it and will never become a future paying client. So you are down two points: one for not getting paid and another for having your valuable time wasted.
The solution? Put a clear sales barrier around your time and knowledge.
How to Put a Sales Barrier Around Your Time and Knowledge
#1: Clearly Define the Boundaries – Know exactly WHAT you charge for and what you give away to demonstrate your knowledge. For example, a typical consultant will charge for a one-on-one consultation, but give away general how-to tips via a blog.
That means no one-on-one time without a client relationship! Direct the brain-pickers to the resources section of your web site or an audio recording so they still benefit from a little help from you without it turning into a free session.
#2: Know Your Value – Get clear in your own mind exactly how you benefit your clients. Do you help them avoid costly mistakes? Do you give them a jump-start on their project? Do you shorten the learning curve to success?
Knowing your value helps you be firm with enforcing your boundaries. Asking a potential client to pay you a consulting fee when you will end up saving them thousands of dollars on the wrong direction is a more than fair exchange.
#3: Communicate the Boundaries – Don’t hesitate to communicate what you charge for upfront. Often boundaries get unknowingly pushed when the pusher doesn’t know the rules.
The simplest way to do that is answer brain-picking types of questions with an offer of an introductory consultation or coaching session. It’s up to you if you want to offer that for free or a special rate, but the point is to clearly communicate when people are stepping into paying territory.
#4: Avoid the Sneak Attacks – Beware of the brain-picking sneak attacks. The seemingly innocent questions that turn into a full-on interrogation. Again, chances are the brain-picker has unknowingly crossed the line. Often the sneak attacks start is with a simple request for an opinion or an answer to a “quick” question.
Typically the sneak attacker will ask to set up a call or a coffee via social media or email. Respond to quick questions with quick answers, but stay in the medium. How sneak attackers work is they start with something small, but in reality it turns into something a lot bigger.
#5: Be Firm and Fair – Remember the golden rule: be firm with them and fair with yourself. If you ask yourself if you feel cheated or used by responding to a request for your time and knowledge, be firm with your boundaries.
Instead of wasting your time with people who will never value what time or knowledge, focus on over-delivering to those who do: your paying clients!