Do you have a question to share with the Raise Your Voice community? Let me know.
I recently got a tweet from Raise Your Voice reader Jocelyn, a social worker and consultant in the Boston area:
I LOVE your emails. Looking for tips on how to make others pay you when they’re seeking “informal” consultations? Any links?
This is something I’ve been going back and forth with for some time. Maybe it’s the social worker in me that just wants to be as helpful as possible. But sometimes being helpful can get in the way of getting work done for my clients and even working in my own projects.
The reason why these requests can be annoying is that they can be very time consuming, and as writer Ruchika Tulshyan shares in “How 3 Successful Women of Color Navigate ‘Can I Pick Your Brain?’ Requests“, you have to create your own criteria for how to handle these requests. I tend to have a soft spot for some people (most notably social work grad students or people interested in entrepreneurship), so it’s not uncommon for me to schedule time for them when I can. If the person is someone I’m interested in building a professional partnership with, I don’t mind having them pick my brain because I’m picking their brain right back.
Here are my recommendations:
Requesting money up front can show people you mean business. Here are some examples:
- Web designer Krystle Rowry of Kriss Did It: Krystle has a “Kriss Critique” where you pay to do a walk-through of your website design and she provides areas of improvement. She also has a “Pick My Brain” service where you can ask her specific questions related to your website design. She follows up with you a month later.
- Social Worker and business brand coach Vasavi Kumar: Vasavi Kumar gives you 2-hour, 4-hour, or 6-hour opportunities to pick her brain. This service can focus on self-promotion, content and product creation, pitching yourself, and more.
- Branding boutique Ready To Werk: Ready to Werk provides 45 or 60 minute phone consultations for budding entrepreneurs who need some help in flushing out their ideas.
Create a “Frequently Asked Questions”
My “Ask Nicole” blog posts are my way of providing a FAQ for my business. Throughout the month, I get emails from a variety of folks–social workers, graduate students, activists, executive directors, etc. I often get the same kinds of questions, and to prevent me from answering the same question multiple times, I may share a question in a “Ask Nicole post” so when someone emails me with the same question, I’ll point them to that post as well as add any additional (but brief) information specific to their situation. I also point them to my Blog Archives so they can read blog posts related to their question, as well as read related blogs posts by topic. I do this to not only save time, but it’s also a good way to share information on a much broader scale.
Create a Client Questionnaire
Developing a potential client questionnaire helps you screen who’s coming to you because they’re interested in working with you, or if they’re just window shopping, so to speak. One way to remedy someone coming to you for free information is to point them to your questionnaire. If they fill it out, it’ll show you their seriousness in paying you for your services.
Another way to remedy this is, if you choose to bypass the questionnaire, is to get direct. Here’s some language from Jason Falls of the Social Media Examiner:
Sounds like we could work together on this. My work schedule is tight so lunch/coffee is typically not do-able. Why don’t we get a deliverables or hours need from you, I can wrap some thought around an estimate and we can schedule a working session?
It still lets them know that your time doesn’t come free.
…Or Just Say “NO”
Hopefully you can find a happy solution that works for you.
RAISE YOUR VOICE: What do you do when someone asks to pick your brain? Share below in the comments section.