How to use the power of startup ‘office hours’ to stay connected and save time

15 minutes

Imagine how many times a week you would get ideas and opportunities pitched to you if you worked in a high-growth industry that was cash rich, reached millions of customers, are a successful and respected brand and your role is ‘Head of Innovation’.

This is the lucky challenge I was facing when I started in my new role six months ago. I was getting contacted for meetings, coffees and calls by startups, people with ideas, software vendors and more every day via email, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and phone. After building four startups and being on the other side of this relationship, and wanting to stay open to fresh ideas while respecting everybody’s time, including mine, I needed a solution.

And the solution? Startup ‘Office Hours’.

If you’re not familiar with this, it’s normally a 15 or 30 minute slot with a prominent investor, successful founder or subject matter expert run back-to-back to give random early founders access to a broader network and skills.
It’s run with #nofilter and very efficient. I’ve done a few for Startup Victoria and they are rewarding for both parties.

So I decided to give it a test run. I updated my LinkedIn and Twitter profiles with a Calendly link and a note reading

Thanks for connecting. I get a lot of pitches for ideas, products, services, etc and would like to explore as many as possible for our business. Please set up time here
Thanks, Leslie”

I created three 15 minute slots each Wednesday and blocked out the time. It felt weird and a little arrogant, but I decided I needed to find a balance between creating often valuable, random inbound connections and not spending an hour twice a week having coffee with strangers ;-)

The result?

It works brilliantly. Within 48 hours I was booked out for 8 weeks. Most people are prepared to wait, are very well prepared to cut to the chase due to the 15 minute time constraint and we quickly agreed to explore further or not.

I’ve agreed no with 60% of the calls, which is good for both parties, had follow up meetings with 20% more, connected 20% to internal colleagues for follow up and are in active commercial conversations with the rest.

It’s worth a go if you’re looking for a way to keep your mind open and external radar working while controlling and managing your time. Each 15 minute meeting has saved me 45 minutes. That’s 2.25 hours a week I get back.

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