Whether gathering information for career change, market research, or new product / service offerings, it is important to speak with people who have previously tread on the ground you wish to travel.
Information interviews were sound advice 20 years ago to GenXers newly out of school when internet use was still in its beginning stages, and accessing those in the know still required picking up the phone.
Now with social media, it is so easy to comment and speak directly with people, that we are now all strapped for time. Anyone who brands themselves as an expert will eventually be inundated with requests to “pick your brain”. Always keep in mind when making such requests, you are NOT the only one asking. Chances are they can't accommodate everyone. This begs the question, when experts are shortlisting who they will respond to, Why should they pick you? What will set you apart?
Before you make another request like that do this little exercise.
Change the following statement
Can I pick your brain?
Can you give me some of your time and counsel for free?
Would you accept the request? That is exactly how that request is perceived by your prospect.
I recently did a consult with an aspiring blogger who wanted to connect with more experienced gurus in her niche. She was getting very little response to her queries and attempts to connect. I advised her to make an offer of some kind of trade for their expertise. They may have no need for it but may know someone who does. Since so few people even think of that, it is one way to set yourself apart.
"My areas for expertise are A, B, and C. If you need or know of someone in need of help in those areas, I am happy to offer advice.'
Reciprocity is the operative word. Offer SOMETHING in exchange for their time. Get creative. “Everyone a student and everyone a teacher”. Yes you do have something to offer i.e. assistance, advice, an introduction to a relevant contact in your network, etc. Do your homework, try to offer something significant to them. If completely at a loss, simply ask "What do you need?"
Posted by Paula Cowan. Posted In : Networking