If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me to pick my brain, I’d be rich. 

Early in my career, I spent countless hours meeting people at Starbucks for them to pick my brain. I didn’t want to be rude, and it was flattering that they saw me as an expert in marketing, but I would spend hours giving out free advice and realized I wasn’t getting anything in return. If it were family, a friend or even a marketing student asking for advice, I wouldn’t hesitate to say yes. More commonly, though, I’d meet with everyday business owners who wanted to pick my brain, and it didn’t sit right with me. Would a primary care physician ever meet with you so you could pick his or her brain? No! They would tell you to schedule a consultation and charge you for an office visit. 

Once it dawned on me how many hours I was spending answering people’s questions and giving out free advice, I started to realize my time was worth money, and the “free” meetings I had were actually de-valuing my worth. I would spend hours on the phone coaching potential, only for them to thank me, leave and go follow the advice I gave them, all while never actually hiring my firm. What good was that bringing to my life or my business? 

Today, I offer a paid marketing consulting session and if the person isn’t interested, they can move along to someone else. This practice saves me and my team from spending too much time trying to help them figure out their brand before they actually think about marketing. 

Some people think I’m crazy when I tell them what I charge for a consulting session up front, but because what I offer to my clients is worth it, they usually end up booking. They realize there are many business-related things they haven’t thought through before they start marketing. In my consultations, we break down those things so I get a full picture of who they are and what they’re trying to do before we start testing out marketing strategies. Most agencies would take their money and start running marketing campaigns without even knowing who the business owner is, the story behind their company and what audience they’re trying to reach. 

Your time and wisdom are worth something — be cautious about who you share it with, and don’t give it away for free! The next time someone asks you to pick your brain, here’s what you should do: 

Ask questions to assess if this person is actually a potential client, or if they’re just looking for free advice. 

I might say, “Do you have an advertising budget in mind? I’m happy to go over some options we offer.” They might say yes, or they might say, “No, I just wanted to pick your brain to see what next steps I need to take.” If they say no, it’s just not worth your time. 

If they say no, my response is to say, “You would be a great candidate for a marketing coaching session. They start at $1,000 for two hours and we take money up front to book your time. You’ll walk away with a comprehensive marketing plan that you can implement yourself or utilize my team of experts to do for you.” Many people will get out a credit card right then, and others will look at me and say there’s no way they can afford that — either way, it’s up to them to choose, but I make my standards clear, and that’s what matters. 

If they truly can’t afford a coaching session, redirect them elsewhere. 

My free podcast, Do It My Way, is where I offer advice on almost any topic in marketing. It’s great to have a free resource like a podcast, online blog or an e-book you can redirect people to. This will save you time and energy while still offering someone something helpful, and will set you up as an expert in your industry while helping you market your business. 

If I don’t have the advice they’re looking for, I’ll redirect them to a resource I use, like my accountant or even another podcast that inspires me. 

Create an online course with frequently asked questions. 

Making a course where you answer frequently asked questions and share your story can be very lucrative. People are always curious about how you got your start and how you created a profitable business, so letting them explore that for themselves online will establish you as an expert. A course has value, so the next time someone asks you to pick your brain, you can direct them to your website where they can easily purchase the course. 

Ask them to hire you! 

It’s that simple. You are the expert, and they’re reaching out to you for a reason. I learned a long time ago that if you don’t ask, you won’t get! What’s the worst that can happen?

Your time is valuable. Maybe people always ask you how you decorate your home or where you shop for your cute clothes. It might be time to start a blog or create an Instagram account sharing this advice that you can later monetize. Start paying attention to the questions people ask you the most — this might be your next income stream! 

Never forget the value of your time and the knowledge you have to share! 

Deedra Determan, Founder

Deedra Determan started her career working in television for one of the top media companies in the country and later became a marketing consultant in the television industry.

Determan went on to launch a niche website for moms in her local market with over 100,000 moms visiting the website each month using the power of Facebook. After one year from launching, Determan sold the website to Oklahoma Media Company, Griffin Communications. Determan went on to launch a digital marketing agency, D2 Branding that was recently recognized as one of the “Best Entrepreneurial Companies in America” by Entrepreneur Magazine’s Entrepreneur360.

Determan is the host of the Do It My Way Podcast Show, empowering women business owners and CEO’s to do business on their terms with no regrets, hesitation or fear. Determan coaches these women on how to create a personal brand so they can live a life of financial freedom, working when they want to work and making the money they want to make!