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Networking 101

“Hey, I’d love to get coffee and pick your brain!”

Fact: We are all looking for someone to help elevate our business to the next level. Also a fact: there’s a right and wrong way to go about this.

I’ve been on both sides of this meeting invite – the eager student and the sought after mentor, and I’ve learned a thing or two when it comes to asking for help.

Here’s what I know for sure, “Hey, can I pick your brain?” comes across as less of a community-building question and feeds in to more of a transactional culture that is disingenuine. That 6-worded question really communicates, “I don’t want to get to know you, I just want your information.


We all have people we admire: girl bosses who are getting ahead in their career, women who parent in a way that makes it look effortless, wives who have a marriage we admire, ladies who have walked out their faith with longevity.

It’s completely natural to  look at someone and want to understand how they arrived at the place you want to be at. It’s also fair to think, “Man, I’d love to learn from her.  

But, let’s look at this from her point of view. She’s done the work. She’s put in the time, effort and energy to build something of importance. You recognize that, which is why you want to learn from her, but how do you show that you value the work that she’s put in?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat down with someone who asked to “pick my brain” to help them get ahead in business and the relationship ended at that coffee shop. I’ve  learned the hard way that they actually had no interest in a personal connection with me, just my advice on how to elevate their business.

There is a more honoring and effective way to ask for help. One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned along the way to building a brand I’m proud of is that serving others with a genuine heart will reap you the greatest reward.

Let me explain. Instead of approaching a potential mentor wondering what can I learn from them, I ask how can I serve them. This could be as big as helping with a project or as small as treating them to coffee. Let them know that you’re not in to just getting something out of them.

I’ll let you in on a secret, sometimes mentors want friends. Not just a one-way relationship. When you lean in and invest in someone, they are eager to invest and share their knowledge with you. The last thing people want is another coffee date where they get there and they think they’re making a friend and realize people just wanted their information.

Another secret for you, I am personally willing to give my friends everything I know for free. Why? Because I know these friends genuinely enjoy our friendship and not just what they can get out of it.

You’re going to gain access to the people you want access to when you ask how you can serve them.

When you make relationships your vision and priority, a heart of sharing information will naturally flow. I’ve gained access to three women who normally charge hundreds of dollars for limited time, but they freely give me untapped time once per month. These women have become some of my biggest champions, cheerleaders, and most importantly, friends. I didn’t start these relationships asking for a coffee date. I looked for ways to serve them with a heart for a genuine relationship.

So my challenges to you:

>> Get to know the individual behind the genius mind/life you admire! And then, ask yourself what skill do you have that could be offered to someone trading your service for an hour of their time each month?

>> Eliminate the words, ‘pick your brain’ from your vocabulary. It’s time to show people we value them for more than what we can get out of them.

>> Don’t be afraid of NO! I’ve been told no a hundred times, but I’ve also gained valuable knowledge and friendships by taking the time to sew into someone and get to know the person behind the information.

>> Create a culture in the online business world of honor and serving one another, cheering each other along in the unique genius we each have to offer! That is how you build true connections in business.

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