mohamed_hassan / Pixabay

People ask to pick my brain all the time. If you’re seen as a sought-after expert in your field, people probably want to pick your brain too. While it’s flattering at first, at some point it becomes annoying. Why? Because at some point you start to feel like people are taking advantage.

If you’re in a situation where everyone from your high school friends to strangers on the internet are asking to pick your brain, here’s what you can do about it. This is based on my experience in handling brain pickers in my own life.

Start declining requests.

The first step in dealing with the “pick your brain” dilemma is to set boundaries. In this case, it looks like saying no to requests even though you’re used to saying yes.

I recently had a conversation with a friend who agreed to all the brain picking requests because she thought it might lead to business. Eventually, she realized she was helping other people make money while she still struggled. It was a real “aha” moment for her where she realized she needed to set better boundaries. In her case, that looks like saying no to requests so she can focus on her business.

The key is to consider the return on investment. In my friend’s case, she knows she’s not getting enough of a return to keep taking these meetings. Of course, this depends on who is asking, but for the most part, they aren’t worth it.

Set boundaries.

Depending on the situation, you may need to set boundaries with the “pick your brain” people. For example, perhaps you send them to an application link for a consultation instead of immediately asking for payment.

This, of course, depends on the situation. For example, if a blogger or small business owner who wants to pick my brain, I send them to an application for a consult. The reason I do this is that they are a good fit for one of my paid programs. Granted, these people usually reach out to me with good intentions and typically ask how the process works.

On the other hand, if I get the feeling that someone just wants to pick my brain for free, then I send them a payment link. For example, I occassionally have fintech companies reach out to me for advice. They aren’t a good fit for one of my programs and I’m not giving them free advice, so I send them a payment link.

If they decline then I don’t waste my time. If they accept then I get paid. It’s a win-win situation for me either way.

Set consultation rates.

If you’re starting to receive a lot of “pick your brain” requests, it may be time to create some consultation packages. I get a lot less of disrespectful requests now because people know I get paid for my advice. This means the boundary and expectation is set. However, if you’re not known for this yet and people think they can get free advice, then it may be time to figure out consulting rates.

For instance, I have an hourly rate for consulting which I use for the “pick your brain” requests. These are specifically for one-off situations where someone either isn’t a good fit for one of my programs or can’t commit to group or private coaching yet. It’s also the rate I send to brain pickers who I feel are trying to take advantage in an effort to scare them off.

Final Thoughts

“Pick your brain” requests may be flattering, but eventually they become a nuisance if you aren’t getting paid. By setting boundaries and consultation rates, you set the expectation that your time is to be respected – and you’ll likely make some money too!