“Hey, can I take you out for coffee and pick you brain? I have a question about freelance writing.”
This is such a common question and I’m sure you’ve been asked it in one way, shape or form at some point in your career.
In fact, I’ve heard this taught as an actual tactic for learning the business.
In fact, I’ve definitely asked people if I could pick their brain! (And still do sometimes!)
So, is it good to do this? Is it smarmy? Is it somewhere in between?
Hey, can I pick your brain?
Ahh…I guess it’s kind of a grey area.
When we’re just getting started, or trying to figure out how to level up, we need someone who is further along to point us in the right direction.
But if you’re that person who is further along, you’re probably REALLY busy. And you likely get asked this question a LOT.
The answer here, for the asker and the mentor is boundaries.
Because here’s the thing, in the content marketing game, sharing valuable advice and offering free information is important!
And literary citizenship is super important!
But sometimes you need to get paid for your advice.
Let’s take a quick break from the training so I can remind you about my resource library!
Executing a solid marketing plan comes down to understanding who you serve, what makes you different in the eyes of your ideal client, why that difference matters and what you do.
If you can get solid here, your marketing will flow from there.
I’ve put together a worksheet to help you figure this out. You can grab the free download in my resource library. Just pop your email address into the form below and I’ll email you the password, then go to the freelancing section and look for “Freelancer Positioning Worksheet.”
Alright, let’s talk about boundaries
Where you place your boundary on requests for free advice is different for every entrepreneur. That’s the first thing.
But you should definitely figure out where that line is and draw that line in the sand.
The next step is to maintain that boundary. And yeah, you may feel MEAN but your boundary is there for a reason.
And think about how much you give to your community already, and what this person is asking.
Like, you’re not giving enough already? And you should give to this random person…because they think you should? Because you owe them?
Sometimes giving free advice isn’t the right call at that exact moment in your specific situation. Recognize that and keep your boundaries in place.
How to respond when people want to pick your brain for free
There are gracious and kind ways to declining an invitation when people reach out asking for advice but don’t want to pay for it.
Because you want to treat everyone who reaches out to you with respect as a human.
The goal here is to acknowledge their situation and remind them that you run a business.
Here are a couple suggestions for investing in people without giving into every request to pick your brain.
This first one I would use if I kind of know the person, or if a friend as given them my information and told them to reach out.
And I will note, I often accept these requests if I’m available and it makes sense. But here’s what I’d say if I’m declining.
Response to pick your brain 1/2
Hey friend, so good to hear from you!
I love that you reached out about freelance writing and marketing as it’s an area I’m passionate about. At this point, I’m fully booked through till the end of __________, which means my schedule is pretty tight for coffee meetings.
That said, I’d love to invite you to our next virtual co-working session! I’ve pasted the details below—let me know if you can make it 🙂
Also, I’ve written about this topic before on my blog (link). Hope this is helpful in your situation!
PS What’s your Instagram handle? I’d love to connect with you there!
This second one is something I’d use if I have no idea who the person is or if the tone of their request put me off. Like, if it felt demanding or entitled or something.
Response to pick your brain 2/2
Thanks for reaching out! I have a lot of knowledge in the freelance writing and marketing field and would love to see you succeed in this area!
Here’s a little bit about me and my business.
And here is an article I wrote about TOPIC (link). Hope it’s helpful in your situation!
Let me know what you think and let me know if you have any other questions.
PS If you’re interested, I will add you to my email list where I share weekly tips and tricks to move you ahead in your freelance business!
Are you wondering what the right way to ask someone for free advice is? Here’s a helpful article from The New York Times.
One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.
This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.