Tip 1 - Find Them First
Real IT pros don't want to help. That's right. Younger, over-eager, inexperienced IT folks are usually quick to take on new challenges. Older, seasoned pros however are over that crap. They've been there, done that, got the t-shirt and the antibiotics too. They're tired of the crap they deal with all day, every day. Would a carpenter want to come home from work to build another cabinet at home every day? I rest my case. So, if anyone jumps up to offer to help you with computer issues without hesitation: don't trust them. A real IT pro will only be persuaded by compensation offerings (see tip 3).
Tip 2 - Attacking the Problem
This one is tricky. If you already have something and it just needs fixing, that's one thing. If you don't have it yet, and are looking for help deciding what to buy, that's another.
If you have issues with an existing contraption, the person helping should ask "when did it start happening?", and then continue from there. If you're looking for help buying something new, they should ask "what is it that you are trying to do, exactly?"
Tip 3 - Compensation
If they insist on money (cash), counteroffer with pizza, beer or power tools. Real IT pros will work for almost anything they can use to fix their own non-IT problems back home. Food is usually very high on their list. If they don't seem impressed with an offer of good food, they're fake.
Tip 4 - Self-Esteem
If you ask "how well do you know networking?" or "are you really good with servers?", and the other person answers with "I'm an expert at..." or "absolutely!", walk away fast! I real IT pro will never admit to having knowledge about anything unless it's during a job interview. Any other time, they will deny any and all knowledge about anything containing the letters "i" and "t" in close proximity.
There you have it. Four easy tips you can remember that will help you identify, and bribe a good IT professional to help you solve your IT problems.