As your business grows and you become more successful, it’s natural that other entrepreneurs who are looking to grow their business will reach out to you. There is nothing wrong with asking questions if the approach is made properly.
As you have probably seen, the approaches tend to be sloppy. Social media has created a tremendous opportunity by giving us access to successful people who can help us, but there’s a good way and a bad way to network on social media.
Your time becomes increasingly important to you as you grow. You will have less free time, so you have to think through every appointment and call you agree to take. Requests for your time from your audience will become increasingly more frequent. If you give in, you won’t have time for what you should be doing to grow your business. You will have to say "no'' a lot more but not feel bad about it.
There will be four types of requests that come through email, social media, and even text. Here’s how you respond.
1. “Can I Pick Your Brain?”
This request will be the most frequent. You will get messages asking to pick your brain and/or pick your brain about a certain topic. It sounds easy enough and because you’re a good person, you want to help. You might start by answering a few questions but this request can easily become a black hole. Also, if you have paying clients that spend money to pick your brain, it isn’t fair to them that you let others do it for free. You can say no and still be a good person. Remember how important your time is.
The way you respond to the pick your brain request is to point the person to your free content. Point them to your articles, blog posts, podcast interviews, YouTube videos and any other place where you release free content. You produce this free content for this very reason—to help people and to help people who can’t afford your services right now. You can send them a specific link or point them in the right direction.
Tell them your free content is how they can pick your brain. If they want specific questions answered, you have to be paid for your time and knowledge. If you want to go beyond and help people for free, you can do a Facebook Live Q&A session or a group call through Zoom to answer many questions instead of doing it individually. People can go back and watch the recording and probably hear their specific question being answered.
2. “Let’s connect/network.”
This request sounds innocent enough but the problem is that it’s too vague. “Connect or network” can mean getting on a call, picking your brain, a joint venture or 10 other things. It is a request that will eat up your time and/or require some of the knowledge that clients pay you for.
The way you respond to this request is to ask for clarification on exactly what the person is looking for. Tell them to be specific so you can best figure out what works for both of you. If they tell you they just want to get to know you or if they say they were hoping to discuss a joint venture, you make the decision that best works for your time and business.
Networking and connecting are great if it makes sense for where you are and your goals. Saying no is okay.
3. “Let’s trade/barter.”
This request is an offer to exchange services or knowledge. This is something that’s commonly done when someone is starting out or they see an opportunity to make an equal trade. For this type of arraignment to work, it has to be mutually beneficial for both parties and both parties have to understand the value of what is being offered.
If you don’t see the value in what is being proposed, it is okay for you to say no. The way to respond to this request is to evaluate whether or not what is being offered makes sense for you. It might not or you might not see the value in what the other person is offering. This isn’t to say there is no value in their offer—just that it doesn’t make sense for you.
4. “You should do something for me because I’m a big deal.”
This type of request comes in as a message from someone who is looking for something. They want you to write about them, hire them, recommend them, or something else. They send you a message talking about all the things they’ve done and how big of a deal they are. The message is meant to say that they’re so amazingly awesome that it would be a privilege to do something for them.
The way you respond to this request is to ignore it. You can start a conversation trying to bring them back from the clouds but it’s not worth your time. If the message is from someone you want to connect with, that’s a different story, but if it’s an unsolicited bragging pitch, it’s easy to bypass it and move on with life.
You will get these requests and many more as you grow your business. Your audience and customers will want more of your time but you have to be careful. You started a business to create freedom in your life and to be in control of your schedule. Don’t let anyone else take control by demanding your time and knowledge. Know your worth and make decisions accordingly.