The more successful you get as an entrepreneur, the more likely you’ll be barraged with people who’d like to ask your advice or 'pick your brain' Here is how to help them out, while also protecting your time.
The more successful you get as an entrepreneur, the more precious your time becomes. Not only are you trying to run a business and scale it, but you are also trying to have a social life. So, when aspiring entrepreneurs ask for some more of your time to "pick your brain," you may, unfortunately, need to say no. And this can be hard, as you know people have gone out of their way to help you make it.
So here are four strategies I’ve developed that allow me to say “yes” more often, while simultaneously helping others, seeing friends and protecting my time.
Turn a coffee into a meetup. When I was in San Francisco last fall, I wanted to connect with my friends John Corcoran and Susan RoAne. But because I was only in town for a quick visit, I suggested the three of us get together for dinner. My two friends hadn’t previously met, but hit it off and have now gone to other events together. John has also interviewed Susan for his podcast and referred her for other media opportunities.
If you don’t have enough time to see all your friends individually, think about connecting them, and you’ll all benefit.
Turn a phone call into a podcast. A friend recently emailed, asking for advice about her forthcoming book. Could we set up a call? I realized her questions would probably be ones I receive frequently. I suggested we record the call as a podcast interview, so I could later share it online. That means that during our 20-minute chat, I can answer her personalized questions but also create -- without any additional effort -- a piece of content that can benefit others.
Related: 6 Dumb Ways to Ask for Help
When you’re short on time, you can’t afford to do something twice (answer her questions and then record a podcast). Do it once and leverage it.
Turn an email into a blog. Another friend recently wanted my advice about how he could get started as a professional speaker. I realized that if I simply sent him an email, I’d be wasting my time, because inevitably someone would ask me the same question again. So instead of jotting off a quick message, I took a few extra days to write him and responded with this blog post answering his question. Now I can simply send the link anytime people ask me in the future.
Turn a question into an answer. In a similar vein, when I interviewed technology opinion leader Robert Scoble for my forthcoming book, he told me that he resists answering questions via email. Instead, he prefers to answer them via the Q&A website Quora, which ensures the exchange is captured publicly and can benefit others who might have similar queries. Additionally, sharing your advice online turns a quiet, private task -- answering emails -- into a form of content creation. This will benefit your online reputation, as Google indexes your insights and ensures they rank prominently when your name is searched.
Successful entrepreneurs are always in demand. Managing these requests can be difficult, but if you’re strategic, you can help others and keep your focus where it needs to be.