The phrase that I want everyone to pledge to STOP using is
“PICK YOUR BRAIN”
which by definition means “to obtain information by questioning someone who is better informed about a subject than oneself.”
I’m going to explain the 4 reasons why we’re happily waving goodbye to this, and why you should NEVER ask to do this to someone.
1) When someone asks to pick your brain, that just sounds PAINFUL. Whether it be a saying or not, this is the absolute worst way to approach someone you respect and admire.
Instead, email them your question that matters the most. Most likely, they can spare 3 minutes of their own time to answer your question.
2) Usually, asking to pick one’s brain comes with a coffee date of some sort. It leads to the assumption that an hour of one’s time and expertise is worth a $4 latte. #rude
Do some digging. Does this person offer mentoring or coaching? Do they sell or provide educational resources? If they do, it’s disrespectful to basically ask them for a session which they usually charge for, for free. If they don’t, ask them if they provide coaching. Immediately they will know that you VALUE their time and expertise, and they will be so happy that you reached out.
3) So the brain-picker is obviously gaining a LOT of valuable information from this desired meeting – but what is the mentor getting out of it? It’s a situation that is clearly not equally beneficial.
If you’re going to ask for someone’s time, make it as easy on them as possible. Offer to come to them, whatever time is most convenient. Bake them some cookies. Buy them lunch. If a kind soul told you yes, try to reciprocate as much as humanly possible.
Remember: you are not entitled to a free mentoring session from an expert in your field.
There are more eloquent ways to get the information that you desire. There are more respectful ways to network with people. This isn’t a post to discourage industry networking, but the way in which you approach it, because without even realizing it, you could be burning a bridge.
SO, in the name of respecting other people’s time, expertise, and the years it took them to build what they have today – let’s all stop asking to pick their brains.