A while back, I wrote a post about how to promote your office hours. In it, I mentioned how Thomas Jockin is typically fully booked. Not long after, Thomas sent an email to explain how he keeps his spaces so in demand. Here’s what he had to say:
Be explicit about how you can help
Listing your profession, in your bio, isn’t enough. Tell learners more about yourself—the more specific you can be, the better. For example, on my Officehours profile, I explicitly note that I can assist with typography, lettering, and typefaces.
Associations and qualifications matter
Just because you know how qualified you are, doesn’t mean others will. So, tell them—and remember that people like winners. State the years of experience you hold, in your respective field. Also, list any high profile clients you work with. These points will help visitors appreciate the knowledge and experience you have to share.
Structure the call right
With only 10 minutes for each session, you need to manage your time well. Here are some approaches that work for me:
Thank the learner for his/her time. A mindset of appreciation is useful in stressful situations. I take a moment to thank the learner, at the start of every Officehours session. Doing so slows me down and reminds me to focus on helping my learner—instead of stressing over time.
Ask the learner what you can help with. Your learner might have sent you some preliminary questions when he/she booked office hours. Nevertheless, hearing the learner ask these questions out loud will give you a better sense for the nature of the problem he/she’s experiencing.
Ask follow up questions based on your learner’s response. In my experience, most learners’ questions are too broad. You need to direct them to be more specific, so you can narrow the discussion. You’ll develop this skill with time. As you do, you’ll provide help more efficiently—and feel calmer during sessions.
Give a homework assignment based on what your learner needs. With only ten minutes to talk with a learner, you can only cover so much. Because of this, I assign my learners homework to complete before our next Officehours session. I explain the purpose of the homework, and what they can expect to learn from their assignments. I also encourage them to set another session with me, so we can go over the results.
A repeat learner is worth his/her weight in gold
Assigning homework is the secret sauce that allows me to consistently book my Officehours slots. It’s always easier to work with someone you’ve established a relationship with, than by starting from scratch.
If your learner does the assigned homework, the odds of him/her rebooking is nearly 100 percent. Those who don’t complete the homework, and fail to rebook, have also done you a favor. They’ve helped you weed out someone who wasn’t that interested in learning. (So, regardless of what occurs, I consider this a win-win.)
Something happens… Share it!
Someone books a session with you? Share it on social media (with a link to Officehours)! Someone asks a great question during a session? Share it (with a link to the learner who asked the question)! Someone else books a session? Share that too! All of your Officehours slots get filled? Share it! (See a pattern?)
Think of social media as a flywheel you keep turning with each event. As you spin that wheel, more events will happen—making the wheel spin ever faster. Don’t worry about bothering people with your announcements. In my experience, not one person has been upset about me about sharing how I’m helping people. Who’s going to be negative about contributions and positivity?
If you’d like to know more about how Thomas runs his Office hours sessions—or you want to talk type—request a session with him! While you’re at it, check out some of Thomas’ work, on Dribbble or get involved with Thomas’ typographic get-together: Type Thursdays!