Amy Vernon recently wrote in her outstanding #SMEtiquette column about people who want to pick your brain. This is all to familiar happening for consultants. Everyone wants to pick your brain about your expertise. It happens to everyone at some point in their career be it a public relations consultant or a plumber. I know I’ve been known to pick peoples’ brains. We all have. It is nice when people want to know your professional opinion. It is flattering.
There is a big difference between asking someone’s opinion on a professional topic and asking them to work for free. And that is where many do not know the difference. There are times when you need to bounce something off someone who is a professional in a field that you do not have expertise. I get that and I am OK with that as a professional. What I am finding that people are expecting work for free. They want you to tell them how to do from A-Z or they want your contacts.
That isn’t OK. When you are consultant, your knowledge is your product. You cannot work for free. I have been limiting my pick your brain time with people to either short phone calls or coffee on my schedule. For me, I limit the time to 30 minutes for both an in-person meeting and phone call. I tell people up front that after 30 minutes, we need to start talking about a business relationship – i.e. scope of work, contract, and payment. That usually stops the folks looking for you to work for free from going any further. And those who respect you as a professional, will understand it.
What it comes down to is valuing your time and knowledge. I value my time and knowledge. You should as well.
When Social Hits the Fan!
Want learn more about social media crisis? And how you can prevent and manage them? I’m speaking at ConvergeSouth in Winston-Salem, NC in October. There’s a discount code, SPEAKVERGE, but it isn’t valid on student tickets. So come on over to NC, it is nice during the fall months.