Scott Ingram at NetworkInAustin.com has a new post on his blog called "Brain Picking Is Rude". In this posts he talks about how people often call others (those they know and successful strangers) and ask "Can we get together so I can pick your brain....".
Scott has some good advice for those who are seeking advice (do not just show up unprepared, but have a purpose for you meeting. Additionally, if you are the "picker", find ways that you can provide value to the "pickee"). You should read his thoughts.
I thought I would add my two cents to this topic and expand on Scott's wisdom.
1. Gush a little. If you are calling someone because you admire their accomplishments and seek advice, be sure to tell them as much. Make people feel important, not that you somehow deserve the audience. If you are seeking guidance, say so -- do not try to position the get together as something else.
2. Be flexible. If you are asking for time on their calendar, find a way to be available at the time they suggest. If they say "7:00 AM", do not say "Oh, I can't, I have to take my kid to school". Instead get your spouse to drive your child that day or make arrangements with a friend. If you are looking for a favor (time on their schedule), you need to work around them... not the other way around.
3. Ask them how you can help. Just because they are more successful does not mean they do not have needs. Be sure that you find out what you can do to add value. Then look for ways to take action. You will be surprised when you help others how quickly they (or someone else...KARMA!) will return the favor.
4. Send a "thank you" note. Yes, handwritten. Blah, blah, blah... on all the damn excuses. If you cannot find 5 minutes to send a thank you note to someone who sat with you for an hour and shared advice, then you are not worthy of their time. I hear so many reasons why people don't do this, and have never heard one that is credible. Just send the note. Even if you simply use email.
5. Be available to help others. The sad thing that I regularly witness is successful people who had others extend them a hand up along their journey who are suddenly "too busy" to make themselves available to help others. Few people have reached the top by themselves. But once they get to the highest levels some forget how fortunate they were to have mentors, guides, and friends who assisted them along the way. Return the favor to those who helped you by being one who will help others.
Have A Great Day.