Since when did meeting someone become “connecting?”
Not a week passes without an invitation for lunch or coffee to, as they say, “connect with me.” Somehow, that phrase rings of shallow intentions.
In the physical world, I believe in cultivating “friendships.” The virtual world has different rules. I’ll save that for a later blog.
I believe in “I would love to get to know you better.” But I’ve found that almost no one (there are rare exceptions) has the desire or the time for really wanting to know me. Most just desire easy access to my “network” of relationships.
I cannot adequately describe how often people ask to meet with me and immediately ask the obligatory “connection” question. You know, something like, “Your life seems so fascinating, could you please tell me what you are doing these days?” Only to see their eyes glaze over a few seconds later or wander the room looking for notables to walk in.
It is immediately obvious they do not care at all about my story or learning from it, they are waiting for a breath so they can tell me their story, or ask me to introduce them to someone important, provide leads for their career, give me their latest CD or book, or similar.
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE hearing other people’s story. The greatest meals and sacramental times I’ve experienced in life are those when I hear a fascinating story and realize I have met someone of my “tribe.”
But I find it disingenuous to be invited to coffee or lunch to get to know ME better, when all the time it is a guise to get to know my connections—not me, at all.
But even more often, someone asks for the opportunity to “pick my brain.” Yes, “pick my brain.”
PICK. My. Brain.
Pick. MY. Brain.
Pick. My. BRAIN.
Ponder that phrase a few moments.
To “pick my brain” connotes asking for my many years of hard work experience, life experience, knowledge gathering and years of diligent, blood sweat and tears invested into my success—for free (or at the very best a $7.00 lunch.)
No one would dare ask me to lunch to talk me into giving them my Macintosh computer which costs only a thousand or so dollars.
But somehow, no one hesitates to ask to “pick my brain” which represents hundreds of thousands of real dollars of investment and years of hard work that are truly priceless.
Since when are physical things worth more than a lifetime of knowledge.
I have finally realized that my knowledge, my ability to gather people, my love for life, my mentoring, my advice, and my maturity are worth a bit more than lunch.
So don’t be offended when you ask me to coffee or lunch to “connect with me” or “pick my brain,” and I happily quote you my prorated day rate plus lunch.
Sure, I do pro-bono work. Lots of it.
But please realize I live in the city where CCM, charities and religious organizations abound—who never hesitate to ask for freebies—so my generous but limited number of pro-bono hours usually disappear by the end of January.
Last time I checked, the grocery store and electric company still charge me real money to buy my groceries. For some reason, they just will not accept my good intentions for payment. I’ve tried.
I love “connecting” and getting my “brain picked” when it truly is a straight-up business deal. It almost always turns out to be a win-win situation.
Just be honest with me. What do you really want?