I understand the irony of my emailing you about this, but I need your help! I’m a wedding photographer and my business is going pretty well. I’ve been shooting full time for two years now and I’m really proud of how much I’ve achieved. It’s taken a lot of work, but it’s been worth it!
My problem is, I’m now starting to get a lot of emails or private Facebook messages from friends and strangers asking if they can ‘pick my brain’. Sometimes they fire questions at me, but most of the time they’re asking if we can meet for coffee or if they can come and see how I work at a wedding!
While I’m honoured that people think I’m worthy of asking advice, I can’t help but feel annoyed about it. I’ve worked my BUTT off for the past two years to get to where I am, and these people seem to want me to give them all the answers for free! Don’t they realise there’s no quick answer and that hard work and time is really what it takes? You must get a lot of this too so I was just wondering if you had any advice on how I should deal with it?
When you reach a certain level of success, it’s inevitable that people will start to come out of the woodwork and innocently ask you for advice. Yes, it can be irritating, but the fact that this is happening is actually an amazing opportunity for your own business to grow.
Don’t feel bad about saying no!
First off, you should not feel bad for saying no. I say no to people everyday and I never feel guilty about it! You are only one little person and you can’t help everyone. You shouldn’t ever feel burdened by other people’s problems just because they asked you about them.
“Brain picking” meetings are particularly exhausting because they usually don’t have a specific goal. A lot of the time you’ll be trying to figure out exactly what the other person actually wants from you. To me, there is nothing worse than vaguely asking for advice. Let’s drop the foreplay and get to the point already! Does that sound harsh and mean? Maybe a little, but I’m a busy girl, I ain’t got time for fannying around!
If someone is asking to “pick your brain” then the implication is usually that they don’t really know what they want or need, they’re just hoping that you can give them all the answers. I personally avoid these kinds of meetings like the plague.
However I do think that you should always reply to each and every message you get, even if it is to say that you can’t help them. People will generally appreciate that you’ve taken the time to send them a note back, and it shouldn’t take you very long if you create some templates.