Once upon a time, before I managed so many businesses (www.MediaMinister.co.uk and www.advantageinc.co.uk being the chief ‘runners’), I was known to donate a lot of my time helping other entrepreneurs and business-owners. Perhaps too much time, in retrospect.
I’d take on voluntary roles and tasks, and always be ready to offer help and advice to those that sought it. But lately, I’ve had to be a bit, well, mean…
As nice as it is to meet interesting people over coffee (if you’re lucky) or lunch (if you’re REALLY lucky), I’ve had to put my foot down and say no to those who want to meet up to ‘pick my brain’ (what a horrible image that conjures up!). I simply don’t have the time or the energy. Besides, I wouldn’t expect my lawyer to give me free and impartial advice in exchange for a few hours of my undying attention. Actually, I can almost hear his response: “Of course you can pick my brain . . . for £250 an hour.”
Psychologists and behaviorists have observed that women in business tend to fall into the trap of giving away our time and ideas for free because were afraid to ask for compensation. Being the ‘carers’ in society (and presumably in business), we are almost conditioned to WANT to help people. But ultimately there is the danger that we end up feeling overwhelmed and undervalued — especially if we try to be everything to everyone, or simply give too much of ourselves away.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I’m too busy to help people full stop. I still relish the idea of being able to share my opinions, knowledge, ideas and experiences in the hope it will make a difference to someone’s life or business. That’s why I publish a newsletter and am active on social media platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. It’s why I do teleclasses/workshops and produce business-building tools. It’s why I always try to help as many people as I can. And it’s why I am a blogger.
It’s a well-worn, clichéd ‘win-win situation’ for everyone — my ‘reach’ is extended so more people benefit and my ‘life-balance’ is a little kinder thanks to the freed-up time I have stolen back from no longer partaking in ‘pick-my-brain-for-free’ meetings. 🙂
What about you? How do you deal with the ‘brain-picker’? I’d love to hear your thoughts — especially if you are a fellow consultant or freelancer.
Related post: Are You Investing Your Time Wisely?
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