As you begin to evolve in your freelance business, you’re inevitably going to learn a lot of stuff along the way. This includes stuff like sales, marketing, social media, blogging, negotiating, and how to run a business in general. The other thing that will inevitably happen is other people are going to start asking to pick your brain.

Unfortunately, not everyone is willing to pay (or perhaps just doesn’t know you charge) for your consulting. This often times looks like requests to pick your brain or grab a coffee. In the beginning, this may be fine as you practice your teaching skills, but at some point it gets irritating and it gets in the way of you making money.

If you’re starting to get annoyed by these requests, this post is for you. Here’s what to do the next time someone asks to pick your brain.

Own your skills.

The reason people succumb to letting others pick their brain for free for so long is usually because they haven’t owned how good they are at what they do. At least not yet. That’s why whenever someone asks to pick your brain or grab a coffee you do it with no questions asked. After all, you’re being nice and it’s not like you’re an official coach or consultant, right?

Wrong.

The moment you own how skilled you are is the moment you are no longer phased by the “pick your brain” request. If you’re having a hard time with this concept, consider this for some perspective: Your brain is expensive. It costs money to maintain it via training, time spent working, time spent building a business and generally taking care of yourself so that you’re able to continue working.

Truth be told, your brain is probably the most expensive thing you’ve got. Far more expensive than a cup of coffee. Your time is also extremely valuable. You can always make more money, but you can never get your time back.

Respond with your coaching rates.

Depending on the vibe I’m getting from the other person, I may respond to “pick your brain” requests with information about my long term coaching packages. Truth be told I don’t usually do this if I don’t really know the person (I have other options in this case). But, if I do know them and I think they may make a good long-term coaching client, then I will tell them about available packages and rates.

Respond with other offerings.

If I’m not comfortable telling the person about my long-term coaching packages, I typically respond to “pick your brain” requests with other offerings. Again, this totally depends on the content of the email they sent or the conversation I had with them.

For example, if they are explicitly interested in speaking with me and I think they make a good prospect based on my research, then I offer mini-coaching sessions for one-offs or “Pick Your Brain” type requests. This ensures that I help this person while still getting paid.

If they just want me to point them in the right direction but they don’t necessarily want to speak with me one on one, then I send over links to classes and training I have available. Since I’ve been doing this for a while,

Final Thoughts

Since I’ve been doing this for a while, I kind of intuitively know what to reach for when someone asks the “pick your brain” question simply based on the initial conversation I had with them. It may also totally depend on my schedule and whether or not I have the space to do mini sessions in my calendar. It’s really up to you so feel free to experiment, the real point is that you value your time.

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Amanda Abella is a full-time writer who specializes in online business and finance. She's also an online business coach and the Amazon best-selling author of Make Money Your Honey.

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