Everybody gets one for free

I’ve worked with several people multiple times throughout my career. One of those people is Nicole Jordan. There’s a full timeline of how many times we’ve worked together in my post from last summer, “Best Career Advice Ever, Don’t Burn Bridges.”

Nicole just wrote a post about how she’s a little fed up with people always asking for free advice, “No, You Can’t Pick My Brain.”  We both work in PR and marketing. A large part of our business is our ideas. These ideas have value.  There’s always a certain amount of indignation when we think people don’t respect that.  No, we’re not doctors or lawyers, but we all get the same type of questions at a party. Instead of, “my cousin has this strange growth on her forehead, what do you think it is?” we get, “my brother in law is starting to sell his neon beaded headbands online, how should he get more attention for his product?”

I’ve been the recipient of a lot of good advice over the years I’ve been doing this, and I like to share this advice and my experience with others.  That being said, I understand where Nicole is coming from. My answer is,”the first one is free.”  If someone wants to talk about ideas or get my input, I’ll do it once. After that, they’ve got to give something in return for more.  It might be their time. It might be money. It might be an introduction to someone, but they have to bring something to the party.

So, next time someone says they want to “pick your brain,” let them know that this brain remembers who’s picked it and is going to ask for a little payback some day.


4 thoughts on “Everybody gets one for free

  1. I love it. And it’s true, you remember who pumped you for information. The first one’s free is a good rule, another from Marie Williams was the 2-minute rule: If we don’t know each other and you want my advice, I’ll give you 2 minutes with my top line advice. Beyond that, let’s talk. There is definitely a balance that needs to be found here between being able to help like we want to and making sure that we feel our time was appreciated and valued and not taken for granted. My main message: if you want to pick someone’s brain, ask them what they’d like in exchange. Even if it is a nice dinner while the discussion is happening.

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