There's that one guy or gal who's rocking it at the top of your industry. Everything they touch, make, or say is gold. This person is exactly who you want to be when you grow up.

So you gather up your courage and shoot off an email singing their praises. You gush about their work. You say you hope one day you can even come close to achieving their level of success. And you just have one itty-bitty request: Can you pick their brain?

And...crickets. You never hear back. Did your email go to spam? No. They deleted it as soon as they read it.

Here's where you went wrong. You used those three soul-crushing words that highly successful people absolutely dread hearing.

Pick. Your. Brain.

It's not that successful people don't want to help mentor and advise others. They do. They wouldn't have achieved all they have today without the help of their own mentors and advisers.

But here's the thing with successful people, no matter how nice they are: They don't have a second to waste. They're busy being successful, you see. And because of that, everyone wants a piece of their time. Your friendly pick-your-brain email is probably just one of dozens that person received this week. If they responded to every single one, they'd be so busy having their brain picked day in and day out, they'd have no time left to do all that highly successful stuff they do.

That's why even the most generous of people will often ignore a request to have their brain picked.

Does that mean this person will never help you? Not at all. They might. But you need to alter your language. Get straight to the point in your query. You probably have a million questions you'd like them to answer (hence, the pick your brain thing), but you'll have to pick the most urgent and pressing one.

Ask for a single and specific piece of advice. Steer clear of vagueness. Make it easy for them to offer up a reply. Something they can respond to in a few sentences while they're in between meetings. The easier it is for them to help you, the better the chances are they will.

To increase your odds of getting face-to-face time or an email response from your success icon, never let the words "pick your brain" creep into your communication ever again.

Published on: Jan 20, 2017
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.