Have you ever met someone who wanted to “Pick your brain”? How did you respond to them?
A Case Study:
I met this guy at a social media networking meeting last week. He seemed friendly enough, and wanted to tell me about new mobile websites he was building, which could have mobile giving built into them as well.
I thought this was intriguing and gave him my card.
He called to follow up with me and started rambling about his life and how hard it was to be a solopreneur. I heard little kids in the background. Then he asked if he could meet with me to “pick my brain.”
Despite my growing misgivings, I agreed to meet with him.
I met with him this week and as I sat down at the table in the coffeeshop, he didn’t greet me, and was on the phone with someone for 5 minutes, in front of his computer.
Then he got off the phone and said, “You look tired.” Right, this is the second time I’ve met this guy, okay? Why is he commenting on my appearance? What gives him ANY right? I should have left right there. But I narrowed my eyes and sipped my tea.
THEN he proceeded to ramble about his life for 10 minutes. Then he asked me what my life was like.
At this point, I was pretty certain he had no respect for my time. So I gave him a brief answer, and asked him what his vision was for giving nonprofits access to mobile giving.
He said he wanted to know the language to use to get nonprofits interested in mobile websites and giving. He said he knew that the United Way in Houston had gotten 30 members a month with their mobile website.
I said, “That’s a good start. You’d probably be better off looking at larger nonprofits, as they will have more a budget for this, be able to take more of a risk.” And then I gave him a list of a few local nonprofit associations and publications that could help him identify the nonprofits and other businesses that he should target, and that he should probably hire someone to take care of marketing for him.
I finished talking, and he said, “Sorry, I wasn’t concentrating. What was it again?”
So I told him again, as he stuffed his face with a pastry. And he looked at me blankly, then turned to his computer, and said, “I really should have been writing this down, my kids stole all my pens.”
I repeated it a third time, and he said, “Well, i can’t get another marketing consultant, because the first one cost $500.00 and didn’t do anything, and maybe I’ll have to go back to substitute teaching.”
It was obvious that he wasn’t listening to a word I said, so I got up to leave.
He tried quickly to get me to look at his computer where he had another scheme going with another guy, as I was on my way out the door.
Did I mention I paid for my own tea?
Okay, break it down with me, what did we learn?
When someone wants to pick your brain, that’s a big red flag.
Ask them instead what the point of the meeting would be, if you two met. Often you can just get straight to the point on the phone.
Pay attention to what they do, not what they say. If they don’t have respect for your time on the phone, they’re not going to have it in person. I should have walked out after the second minute he spent on his cellphone.
Your time is your most important resource.
Don’t waste it on people you meet at networking meetings who don’t have a real reason for meeting with you in person.
Any thoughts you’d like to share on networking, time-wasters, etc? Please leave a comment!