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Why You Should Never Ask Someone to “Pick Their Brain”

By February 18, 2020July 3rd, 2020No Comments

Here’s a networking bad habit to end right now: sending enthusiastic “you two should know each other” emails or “pick your brain” invitations to meet potential contacts over coffee. Neither networking ask is a career compliment, and they definitely aren’t the best ways to build a strong connection. Kelly explains why in this episode and offers alternative approaches that are far more likely to succeed.

Key takeaways:

  • It is in your best interest to act in the best interest of the members of your network.
  • Examine your networking choices from multiple angles.

What to listen for:

  • 02:13    Be helpful, but with a healthy dose of self-interest: a personal networking story
  • 05:29    Dos and don’ts of networking
  • 06:38    Networking is a self-interested but what is best for you is doing what is best for others


“A good networking choice has to be a good networking decision for everyone else involved.” [05:00]

Need more on this networking topic? Check out these posts on the Build Your Dream blog (as Kelly clearly has a lot to say about it):

And this earlier Reputation Killers episode of the podcast.

And for more great career advice from Kelly and other experts, check out Boss Notes, a new email series from Penguin Random House providing step-by-step guidance for navigating common career challenges. Click here to sign up and start living your best work life now!

J. Kelly Hoey

J. Kelly Hoey

Kelly Hoey is the author of Build Your Dream Network (January 2017 / Tarcher Perigee). She has been lauded from Forbes (“1 of 5 Women Changing the World of VC/Entrepreneurship”) to Fast Company (“1 of the 25 Smartest Women On Twitter”) to Business Insider (“1 of the 100 Most Influential Tech Women On Twitter”) and Inc. (1 of “10 Most Well-Connected People in New York City's Startup Scene”). Empowering A Billion Women By 2020 included her on their list of the “100 Most Influential Global Leaders Empowering Women Worldwide”. Not bad for a former corporate lawyer. She’s a limited partner in two emerging tech funds (Laconia Capital Group and Lattice Ventures) and can frequently be found on Twitter @jkhoey.