09/18/2013 05:22 EDT | Updated 11/18/2013 05:12 EST

What to Say When Someone Asks 'Can I Pick Your Brain?' And You Don't Really Want Them To

As we all do, I get a lot of e-mails a day.

Sometimes it is hard to prioritize which to open and which to let sit till tomorrow.

I think "what to do" with our time is a lot like that too.

Sometimes it is hard to tell what to make a priority and what to let lie.

There is always one type of e-mail that it is easy for me to open and hard for me to follow up on.

"Hey Kelsey, I would love to pick your brain."

My curiosity and addictive love for new ideas/businesses/opportunities compels me to open every one of these type of e-mails.

That, and the fact that among my greatest pleasures in the world is helping people with their ideas/businesses/passions.

Like many of us, no matter what our skill set: mechanic, physician, teacher, ski instructor: there is always someone who wants to pick your brain.

"What do you think about.....". or "I have this thing on my foot.....". OR "My car is going mah-mah-mah-kanup-kanup (visualize middle aged woman shaking her bottom from side to side and then doing two booty drops while making this sound).

We all want to help, but when do we have time amongst our busy lives of work and home?

I never want to feel like a jerk and say -- "Sorry man, I am too busy to listen to your life's passion for 5 minutes." That is the thing, every time I had to turn someone down I felt like a jerk... but not anymore baby!

I have finally found a way to answer the question: "Can I pick your brain?".

The answer is YES. The key is in the Terms and Conditions of the Yes.

"Yes, I would love to chat, I have 15 minutes on Friday at 10am. I am happy to chat about your idea and then I am sure I can recommend someone who can help you on from there."

Terms and Conditions:

My Time

Time Limit

Opportunity for Referral

Here is the magic. Every week I set aside 30 minutes to do this for people. It makes me feel good and in some way, it helps them out. When it is on my time and has a time limit, expectations are clearly set. The sprinkles upon the cherry on top of helping someone is the opportunity to refer your acquaintance to a friend or colleague. Referrals are the best kind of business because they are based on a pre-qualification of a colleague who knows the work you do and your key client type.

Important note -- sometimes the referral is not to colleague and is to a free resource page or to a support group... some people do not have the budget to move forward with direct services, but you can point them in the direction of resources which will help them until such time as they have a budget... YouTube can be amazing for this kind of thing when talking about practical businesses.

At the end of the day, your acquaintance values your ideas for free. If they value your work after a free 15 minutes, they will pay for it... or otherwise would not have been a client anyways. What would happen though if everyone did this kind of practice? Imagine the referral business we could generate and the good vibes we would be spreading?

I am a big fan of setting limits, being open, providing insights and making connections through referred business and if I can do this and help people at the same time it is a bonus.

Final word -- when the person comes back for a second round, go straight to asking if they followed up with your first referral. They will get the message.

De-Stress At Your Desk