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So you want to pick my brain: My thoughts on this common ask

Some random bullet points from me: I've recently joined the Sprudge masthead as an Editor at Large an
Coffee Marketing
So you want to pick my brain: My thoughts on this common ask
By Jenn Chen • Issue #106 • View online
Some random bullet points from me:
  • I’ve recently joined the Sprudge masthead as an Editor at Large and am already working on a project.
  • I am fully booked on coaching clients for the next few months. I am still accepting one-time coaching sessions and possible small projects.
  • If you are a green buyer, purchase green from JNP during the month of July and 5% of the total sale will go to GoFundBean*. (*disclosure: I’m on the GFB board)
  • Comic Con started today and it’s free and online! It’s full of interesting lectures beyond comics, such as storyboarding video games, the origin of Saturday morning cartoons, and behind-the-scenes of the publishing industry.
And lastly, a disclaimer for today’s topic: this is not about you. I have received many pick-your-brain emails through the years. If you have held any role in your industry for a bit, you’ve likely received these emails, too. I also volunteer a lot of time to community efforts and provide free content (like this email) because I believe giving back is important for sustaining an industry.

Featuring my own work & press
Featuring my own work & press
So you want to pick my brain
So you want to pick my brain about what I do and how I got here. Before the pandemic, you probably wanted to grab a coffee, now it’s video chats.
Maybe you want to know my history so you can go along the same path to end up where I am. Or maybe you want a checklist of things I’ve done so you, too, can have my job title. Or perhaps you’re curious on how I do what I do so you can glean that advice into your own work. All good intentions, right?
My default answer is no.
First off, I’m not against mentoring or giving advice or helping students with a look at what their degree could do (lol, I don’t have a marketing degree so…). I also recognize that this could be seen as gatekeeping knowledge, which is why I give time back to community efforts.
I am, however, against people who do not put in the research or time into the person they want to connect with and instead skip all of that and cold email ask the person.
Second, the great majority of these pick-your-brain meetings I’ve had are terrible. I can now decipher most (some slip through) emails who just want a shortcut to my career, who haven’t done their research, and who disguise the ask as a consulting session.
I have exceptions to saying no to these emails: those in my industry from marginalized backgrounds, students who are researching careers, and acquaintances/known people who I would’ve offered some time in the first place. 
I won’t make you read through the lines here, because I want my words to be very clear for the next set of people who cold email me with this request. There are also tons of articles out there on how to form this ask. I hope this is also advice you can send to anyone who wants to pick someone else’s brain.
  • Do your research. This is the biggest one. I am personally very Googlable with multiple interviews, podcasts, and more talking about my coffee history. And not only that, I pin/create highlights/post often on my social media platforms on my current status. A very quick perusal of my feeds would tell you that I am very overwhelmed with work and also trying hard to work on my mental health.
  • Reflect: why are you asking to pick their brain? What can they help with that an article or podcast or someone else can’t?
  • Know what you’re going to ask and be prepared. YOU are leading this conversation. “Tell me your history” is not an appropriate question because it is very broad.
  • Ask yourself if this person is the best fit to answer your question(s) and if your questions could just be emailed. Be detailed in why you think they’re the best fit.
  • Be respectful of time: time it takes to read/answer your email, set up a meeting, and the meeting itself.
  • Offer something in return. If you can’t pay for the time, pay in something else. Anything else. When we can go back to grabbing a coffee, please at least pay for the coffee.
  • Acknowledge most of the above, especially if this is the first time you’ve ever interacted with the person. The more public someone is, the more likely they will ignore your request or say no.
In conclusion, be respectful of someone else’s time. And please, do not use the above as advice on emailing me… I am so overwhelmed right now that I’m just trying to stay upright.

What is Content Marketing & Why is it Important?
Quick text updates & links on what's new on the networks
Quick text updates & links on what's new on the networks
Instagram added: Shop tab to the explore page (Shop is still being rolled out) and edit ability for IGTV preview images and profile covers. The network is testing: a personal fundraiser feature and Instagram Reels expansion into France, Germany, and India and more countries planned (US in August),
Facebook is adding screen sharing to Messenger. The company released a report on the impact of the pandemic on small businesses around the world, including how 26% of businesses had to shut down operations this year from January to May.
Twitter added a DM inbox overlay on the desktop timeline. ICYMI major blue check accounts were hacked on Friday.
Helpful links on how to improve your digital marketing
Helpful links on how to improve your digital marketing
How to Convert Website Traffic With Facebook Ads
Social Media and Local Search: How to Optimize Your Profiles for Local Customers
8 Customer Marketing Strategies to Improve Retention & Growth
Anything I've enjoyed reading recently
Anything I've enjoyed reading recently
How Food Media Created Monsters in the Kitchen
There’s a Divide in Even the Closest Interracial Friendships
An update from my container garden!
An update from my container garden!
I recently attended an outdoor, physically distanced plant swap and came back with one off my wishlist: Persian shield!
I recently attended an outdoor, physically distanced plant swap and came back with one off my wishlist: Persian shield!
At this time, I'm open to: one-time coaching session clients or future project work (2+ months).
At this time, I'm open to: one-time coaching session clients or future project work (2+ months).
What'd you think?
Feedback, questions, or fist bumps 👊 – send them my way by hitting the reply button. Also happy with the 👍 at the end. Or find me on the social networks @thejennchen.
This newsletter is free to subscribe to & takes several hours to put together each issue. If you’ve enjoyed or benefited from my work and would like to support me: donate to your local bail fund, forward to someone who would enjoy the newsletter, buy me a coffee, or Venmo/Cashapp/PayPal me @thejennchen.
Did you enjoy this issue?
Jenn Chen

Thoughts on digital marketing as they intersect at specialty coffee, social media, writing, photography & social issues. 2x a month on Wednesdays. @thejennchen | https://jennchen.com

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