How to Ask For Someone’s Time Without Using “Can I Pick Your Brain?”

How to Ask for Someone's Time Without Using "Can I Pick Your Brain?"

#19: How To Ask For Someone’s Time WITHOUT Using ‘Can I Pick Your Brain?’

19: How To Ask For Someone’s Time WITHOUT Using ‘Can I Pick Your Brain?’

Sometimes I think my role is to help you with a dose of reality, or call it tough love. And this week’s episode is going to do just that as we discuss the best ways to respectfully ask for help, expertise, or time from someone you admire (even if it’s someone you have never met). 

I personally have had this happen so many times: I get a DM from someone I’ve never met or heard that. They’ll start with a compliment, and then they go right for the ask – “I wonder if I could buy you a cup of coffee, and pick your brain.”

First of all, gross (the literal “pick your brain” image is not something I need to envision). And second, I don’t know you; you want something from me, but it will probably only benefit you. And third, you think the price of a cup of coffee is what someone’s time, expertise, and experience are worth? Probably not. 

You may think I sound ungrateful, but the reality is, in a normal day, I don’t even have time to meet my husband for a cup of coffee. I’m not saying you shouldn’t seek help from someone whose work you admire, but if you do cross that bridge, be sure to do it in a way that’s respectful and professional. Today’s episode of Take it Personally will lead you through just how to do that. Here’s a look into the things we discuss:

  • How I approached asking my friend for her help and expertise when I was looking to leave my day job (by acknowledging the value of her time and making it clear up front I was willing to pay for her expertise)
  • Approaching someone you don’t know for advice is different than asking someone you are close with or already know on a professional level. Finding a mutual connection first can sometimes help this situation. 
  • Build a connection before just diving in to your ask. 
  • Take responsibility, and search for the answers yourself first. There is tons of free content out there that may be exactly what you are looking for. 
  • You should accommodate this person and prepare for the meeting beforehand. Be considerate of this person’s time, especially if they are giving it to you for free. 
  • Get involved in the communities you want to grow in because the people you admire will see that. Then when the time comes to ask them to meet for that cup of coffee, it’s a lot softer of an ask. 

Some highlights from this episode:

[5:38] Try not to let the first time you’re connecting with a person be about your ask.

[7:28] Have your questions written down, and the timer on your phone set. You just cannot be too considerate of someone’s time, especially if they are giving it to you for free. 

I hope these tips are helpful! I am SO thankful for this amazing community of people who want to chat and learn more. But I just look at some of the things, things I used to do before I really understood that time is money, and I want to prevent you from making these same mistakes.

As mentioned in the episode, my Take it Personally Facebook group is a great place to discover free content and advice, along with making connections with other entrepreneurs. Click here to join!

Thank you to our Take It Personally sponsors

$100 off your Profile by Sanford membership with the code MADDIEPESCHONG

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Hi! I'm Maddie.

If I’m giving you my elevator pitch, I’m a Sioux Falls, South Dakota, brand photographer and educator for creative women.

Why I walked away from my biggest client


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