I posted this on Facebook and figured it’s high time I started practicing what I preach and post it on my blog instead…

Whenever someone says to me, “I’d love to pick your brain. Can we grab coffee sometime?” I immediately want to run screaming, “ZOMBIEEEEEES!!!….” The tougher thing now is when a friend introduces someone to me who’d like to “pick my brain”: I want to save face for my friend, but geez, I don’t want to feel obligated to let the FoF (Friend-of-Friend) pick my brain just because they know someone who knows me. I read this article — https://www.linkedin.com/…/learning-say-introductions-sloan… — and decided I’m going to make rules of introduction for myself, just like I did with my “Work With Me” page (http://gracerodriguez.com/workwithme).

In a blog post linked within the previous article, Nicole Jordan shared some wise words on brain-picking (http://www.blogher.com/no-you-cant-pick-my-brain):

“Time is valuable, and creative thought is even more so. Don’t undervalue either. As women (and compassionate people everywhere), we like to help and can get trapped in giving our time and ideas away for free because we’re afraid to ask for compensation. Or just don’t realize it’s within our right to do so.

When you are a creative individual who is a “popcorn machine,” as my mom says, who spits out ideas on a continual basis, doling out advice is no big thing. It’s easy to have coffee with someone whose company I enjoy, most who will ultimately take my ideas and somehow help benefit their business. Whatevs.

Creative ideas and connections are the real currency in this digital economy. We are bombarded with fragmented channels to communicate with, audiences to communicate to and many masters to serve on the business side. Having someone who can view this entire ecosystem, understand your market and then advise you on what is wisest for your company to build brand and business is an invaluable resource.”

Here’s a suggestion for those who would like to get to know someone, or get some quick advice from them but can’t afford their consulting fee: Instead of asking to pick a busy person’s brain, try offering, “I’d love to buy you lunch sometime and share thoughts on [insert shared topic of interest here].” That way, it’s more of a conversation instead of a consultation, and you offer to at least feed them for their time. Even better: “I’d love to buy you lunch sometime and get your thoughts on [topic of interest], and possibly help you if you need insight on [your area of expertise].” Then it’s exchanging value for value. Just a thought.

I showed you mine. What’s yours? Have any suggestions on how to say “no” or to make it a fair exchange?