Updated November 2023

Back in college, my pal Sandy and I used to dream of owning a store front where we had two desks and just answered questions all day from passersby for a small fee. It was some combination of Lucy's advice booth from Peanuts and our work together at the Carolina Union information desk.

Sandy Curry and me (seated) at the Carolina Union Information Desk, circa 1983. (Photo by Stretch Ledford or Scott Sharp)

We never achieved that dream, but earlier this year I successfully launched a related one: office hours. My friend Keebe, who owns McIntyre's Books, generously offered me space in her store to hang out for a few hours one afternoon a month.

During that time, I'm available to chat with people who wander in and with those who show up specifically for some help with writing, to chat about publishing or just hang out. I even have brief drop-ins with clients there.

It's a great way to cultivate new relationships (some of them paying), raise my profile in the community (since I work mainly nationally), build my brand and have some fun.

The same concept might make sense for you -- even if you work in a company. Could you set up shop in the breakroom or common area? I bet you could.

Making yourself open and accessible to other people for casual interaction builds relationships and trust, and expands your circle of influence and influencers.

Give it a try today.

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