Announcing: Community Hours
One of the main reasons I blog and speak at conferences is meeting new, interesting people. Sometimes people approach me after a talk, send me an email or write to me on twitter, and they want to share with me something I may find interesting. Sometimes they ask for advice. And sometimes a friend makes an introduction, telling me: “This is someone you should meet. Trust me on this one”.
Meeting new people and connecting with existing friends is definitely exciting, but it is also time consuming. It becomes even more challenging when the people I want to meet with live in a different countries, and when I have a busy schedule running between conferences (or writing a blog every day). Emails would go back and forth several times until we could schedule.
You are probably familiar with this problem: scheduling a meeting is always a hassle. For this reason,a few weeks ago I started a new experiment:
The Community Hours are a weekly block of time I devote to meeting with people from the tech community. It works this way: whenever some person reaches out and walk to have a chat, I sent them the link and they can book time for us, directly putting it in my calendar.
I use a service called Calendly for managing this system. It allows me to pre-define blocks of time when people can schedule blocks. Other that occasionally logging in and defining my availability slots, and sending others the link when we want to meet, the system is pretty much self-service. You get the link, you choose a time that works for you, it’s automatically approved and added to my calendar, and we’re all set.
I got this idea after Shai Reznik and I had a discussion about time management and giving back to the community, a few months ago. Thank you Shai!
Does It Actually Work?
I have been using this system for about 3 months now, and I am really happy with it. So far, I have been getting one or two meetings on an average week, and most of them went well and were very valuable, as I can tell from the feedback I got:
I helped several people with career questions, mentored university students in their thesis project (a brain-wave powered Chrome accessibility extension), brainstormed talk ideas together with Netta Bondy and Kapunehele Wong (which eventually turned into actual talks and were accepted to conferences), and met some very interesting people like Chen Feldman, which eventually turned into a podcast episode about how (and why) software engineers can get started with hardware and electronics projects.
Expanding Community Hours
I see the Community Hours Experiment successful so far — it removed most of the friction I had scheduling meetings with new people, and the meeting I had were mostly good and valuable.
Thus, I decided to expand it and publicly share the link where you can schedule a one-on-one online meeting. But first, let’s set the expectations:
What Community Hours Are About?
For me, community hours are about exchanging value. Do you want to start blogging and need ideas? Do you want to brainstorm talk ideas together? Do you need help spreading the word about an exciting Open Source project you have been working on? Do you have a cool, crazy IoT project idea? Or perhaps you want to record a podcast together, like Britt Barak did a few months ago (yes, Britt, it wasn’t a podcast… just coffee…) ☕
What Community Hours Are Not?
Community hours are not free technical consultation time. Community hours are not about asking me to do code reviews for you, fix your bugs, look into your issues.
Also, I am not looking for job opportunities, so please refrain from booking your goal is to hire.
In general, my Community Hours are geared towards individuals who want to get more involved in the online tech community, and need some advice, encouragement, or a small push to get started.
I Respect Your Time. Respect Mine. Show Up On Time ⌚
So far, most people did show up on time. There were several occasions of people showing up late, and even one no-show.
The time I am waiting for you is time I could be speaking to someone else. Rescheduling and cancelling is very easy and fully automated, so please use these options if you need.
Let’s Get Started! 🤝
I’m excited to see how this turns out. Here is the link to my calendar, where you can set a meeting:
I am opening eight 30-minute slots every Thursday (unless I’m travelling or in a conference). Before booking, please do reach out to me (I am open for DM’s on Twitter, so you can message me even if I don’t follow you) and tell me why you want to meet in a sentence or two. This will also allow me to prepare for our meeting, as needed.
Let’s see where this goes!