Today I got a private message from someone saying “Can I pick your brain?” I wrote a bit about this last week in a post on how much I dislike that line and my usual response is flippant in order to change the subject.
To be honest, there are probably less than a dozen people that I talk to about a variety of topics when I’m stuck on something or when I want to run an idea past someone. These people usually do the same with me so it’s kind of a reciprocal arrangement between peers and friends.
There are some people I know who occasionally reach out to me for a bit of advice and again, I don’t mind talking to these folks and helping them out. Every so often you end up learning something yourself when you help other people, so I look at it like doing someone a favour and who knows where it will go.
Don’t Let Them Pick Your Brain For Free
But the person today, they’re not in this group. They are someone that I’ve given some help to in the past, they’ve not implemented what I suggested and I heard through the grapevine that they didn’t think my advice was very good.
That’s ok, my ego isn’t that fragile. I couldn’t care less what people think for the most part because I’m not struggling to impress anyone. On the other hand, if you ask my advice, don’t like it and then complain about it to multiple people, then we may just have a problem.
I thought about how to respond. The simple solution I came to was to send them an email outlining my hourly rate, asking how many hours they’d like and which email address would be the best to send the invoice too.
This person’s response was almost immediate – “Oh, I was hoping I could grab five minutes to ask for your advice, I don’t really need a whole hour, I just want to run something past you and pick your brain.”
Again, I fired off a quick response, “Sorry, I can only book my time out in one-hour increments at the previously mentioned price. If you buy five hours, I can swing an extra half hour for you. Let me know.”
Needless to say, they sent back an email saying they weren’t interested.
You Don’t Owe Non-Customers Help
I share this with you because there are a couple lessons for you to take away from it.
You‘re not a charity, you can’t allow people to pick your brain for free. You‘re not compelled by some greater mission to help those out there who are less fortunate than you. You don’t owe anyone anything and if your advice, opinion or time are worth listening to, then they are also worth paying for.
Don’t give away your time and advice for free to people who are unlikely to ever become your customers. Sometimes when you‘re talking to someone who is thinking about doing business with you a bit of free pre-sales work goes a long way to helping get the prospect over the line. People who are simply never going to do business with you or have nothing to give back should just be ignored.
Be Careful With The Free Line
You may have heard of the “free line”. This is the point prior to a sale where you‘re engaging your prospective customer with free advice or content in order to convince them to take the next step. Subsequently, you‘ve probably heard about people “moving the free line” which means they are giving even more valuable stuff away to prospects. Sometimes people would have even paid for these things.
Unfortunately, it’s very common for people to completely obliterate the free line and give everything away to the point where potential leads actually begrudge paying for anything – they just expect everything you offer to be for free.
I’ve been guilty of making this mistake a few times myself over the years and the only way to fix it is to go cold turkey. You just have to stop helping people for free and make them aware of the fact that your time and information is worth something.
Some People Are Information Parasites
Without a doubt, this will make you unpopular amongst some people who want to drink deeply from your refreshing fountain of free information, but too bad for them. They can be as butthurt as they like. They’re not your customers and in fact, they resent the implication that they should actually pay you.
Will some of them talk badly about you and say nasty things? Of course they will, but that’s more of a reflection on them than you. People who want everything for nothing are leeches and parasites, who cares what they think or what they say.
Like I said before, you‘re not a charity.
The Value Of Your Time Awakening
I came to this realisation probably about twelve to eighteen months ago. I was reading a book and it got me to thinking about the value of my time. I started thinking about what else I could be doing if I simply put a higher value on my own time and made people pay good money for it.
It wasn’t even about the money so much. By putting a reasonable dollar figure on my time, I simply priced 80% of the time vampires out of the market. They would just be unwilling to spend that kind of money, so by default, I’d get that time back to do other things with.
The side benefit was that I started making more money. Some folks saw my new found focus on charging for my time as an opportunity. They could now pay in advance to guarantee some hours with me to discuss whatever they wanted. I was giving these folks a chance to buy first class tickets with me.
It was a complete win/win scenario. Except for the aforementioned time vampires but who really cares about them. I got back some time, made some extra money and had some people self-select to work more closely with me.
You can do this too. In fact, you have to do this. You need to spend as much time as you can spare working on your own business. The fastest way for you to move forward is to be selfish about your time, starting with driving a stake through the heart of time vampires and brain pickers.
If you want to work me or get some of my time, the easiest way to do it is to join my coaching program. We get on Skype every other week for an hour and go over your business and knock down roadblocks. Alternatively, if you want to buy blocks of my time to work with me in set amounts like workshops, then reply to this email and we can discuss further.