How to prepare for an Officehours session

All ready to go!

It all started last week when you learned that Ms/Mr. X had posted office hours. “Awesome!” you thought, as you clicked the Request Session button. You weren’t hopeful, though. Four others applied for the same space. A day later, you got the email you’d hoped for: Ms/Mr. X approved your request.

So, now what?

We recognize how daunting a meeting with someone you admire can be. I felt this same sensation when I asked Seth Godin for feedback, a few years ago. After reading so many of his books and blog posts, I sent him an email with a question. Later in the day, my phone rang, and I heard the words, “Hi, Eric. This is Seth.”

In the back of my mind, I kept thinking, “Holy shit. I’m talking to Seth Godin!” What came out of my mouth? I’m not quite sure—probably gobbledegook. I hadn’t expected Seth to actually call (in spite of how gracious he was to do so). At best, I hoped he’d send a brief email.

There’s no need for you to get anxious about your upcoming Officehours session, though. You have ample time to prepare. Not sure where to start? Here are some tips:

Watch the video

2 minutes and 31 seconds. That’s all it takes to get a good sense for how Officehours works, and what our current limitations are. Please watch it:

Do your research

Odds are, your advisor holds substantial expertise in her/his area of specialization. If you aren’t already familiar with her/his background, take some time now to educate yourself. (Imagine if my first question to Seth was, “so, do you know a lot about marketing?” I bet he would have hung up on me.) Do your research now. And don’t waste your advisor’s time on questions she/he has already answered elsewhere.

Collect your questions

Although I mentioned questions in the previous passage, I’m going to do so again. Fact is, you can’t just “wing it” on Officehours. Instead, clarify what knowledge evades you, and pick your advisor accordingly. It’s a good idea to prepare 5 succinct questions for her/him (even though you won’t have time for all of them), in advance of your session. Sort these in order of priority, so you cover the most important ones before time runs out. You might never speak with this advisor again—make the most of your opportunity.

Come prepared

We’ve built alerts/notifications into Officehours, but our system isn’t foolproof. Don’t risk missing your session. Add your Officehours feed to sync with your calendar. Pour yourself a glass of water, and show up a little early. Put on your headphones, run the audio test and enter the session. (It’s a good idea to do so in a distraction-free space, in which you can concentrate.)

Skip the small talk

Your session lasts 10 minutes—and only 10 minutes. When these moments have passed, your session terminates. As such, you haven’t any time to waste. Introduce yourself quickly and get the niceties out of the way. With that done, you can get to your questions. This exchange of information is the most important part of your session. It’s also the reason your advisor is taking time out of her/his busy day to help you.

Don’t pitch

Officehours is a community that only works if participants are forthcoming in their actions. Although the desire to pitch/sell what you’re working on might be overwhelming, please resist. Your advisor granted you a session to answer questions. Perhaps this person can help you make sense of challenges you’re stumped by. However, she/he doesn’t want a sales call—even if you have something compelling to offer. So, use Officehours for what it’s meant for—and skip the pitch.

Be gracious

Your advisor has other things to do. Officehours advisors are entrepreneurs, leaders, and creators, with busy lives. Many are also coaches, parents, and friends, with many personal/social commitments. So, we must value and respect their time and contributions. Be courteous, listen intently, and be open-minded about your advisor’s suggestions. And, at the end of your session, perhaps tweet a thank-you to her/him.

Don’t forget karma!

Karma is an important part of Officehours, and something we’re focused on. Although this feature isn’t functional, yet, it soon will be. In the meanwhile, we are collecting user rating data. This will later count toward your karma score.

Those who miss, cancel, or are ill-prepared for sessions will see their score drop. Similarly, those with ulterior motives (e.g. trying to sell/pitch product) will lose karma. This is a big deal. Advisors consider karma when they select learners. Those with low scores will lose out on these opportunities.

This needn’t happen to you, though. Just come prepared, ask good questions, and be nice. (Sort of like in real life.)

Got other questions? You’ll find a lot of answers in our Help section. Find us on Twitter and Facebook.