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Can I pick your brain?

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If you’re a respected member of a business or social network, you’ve inevitably been posed the question, “Can I pick your brain?” Besides just the ugly visual, there is something very selfish about this common request, particularly in a
networking setting.

Perhaps it’s just a sign of the times that help and advice are in great demand by a growing number of people. That’s understandable. But, asking for assistance without the desire to reciprocate directly contradicts the give-and-take that should be happening among you and your networking contacts.

If you are a guilty offender who has been known to “pick the brains” of unsuspecting fellow networkers without offering anything in return, it’s time to rethink your behavior. Everyone is currently going through challenges, and you’d be hard pressed to find someone who couldn’t benefit from the advice, support and help of others. However, in networking, it’s about sharing, not just receiving. Regardless of your situation, you do have the ability to help others.

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How do you reciprocate the favor of someone who has provided you with a piece of valuable advice? It doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. It can be as simple as facilitating an introduction to someone who could be a good contact or sending them a relevant article that they might find useful. There are countless ways to show your appreciation and provide value to your contacts without having to spend a dime.

At the end of the day, you’ll need to develop and communicate a sense of give and take if you’re going to be a valuable and respected member of a network. Once you do, you’ll be amazed by the wonderful people who truly want to help you without you ever having to ask to “pick their brains.”

Adrian Miller is president and founder of Adrian Miller Sales Training. Learn more tips from her at