As my consulting business has grown, Calendly has become an increasingly important tool for managing my time. Because my work is involves spending chunks of time with clients on Skype or Zoom, I need an efficient system for allowing clients to book time on my calendar while still keeping overall control of my time.
Here’s how I’ve set up Calendly and how you can use it to be more productive.
If you’re already familiar with how Calendly works, skip ahead to my tips and tricks.
What is Calendly?
- You set up an “Event type” where you can choose what times of the day you're allowed to be booked and the duration of your meeting. For example, you could be booked any time between 10 am and 2 pm for a 1-hour appointment.
- You send a link to the person you’re going to meet with.
- They can view your availability and book a time slot during your available hours.
- You can customise your event type to ask the invitee questions like their name, email, phone number and custom questions to answer.
- Calendly will check for calendar conflicts and sends a confirmation email and calendar invite to both parties.
- You can even set up email or text notifications to be sent to the invitee reminding them about the appointment.
This is 10X more efficient compared to scheduling meetings via email.
How to set up Calendly
Before you actually set up your first event, you’re going to want to connect Calendly with your calendar account e.g. Google or Outlook. When you do this, you can choose which calendar category Calendly is going to add your bookings too. I have a category called “Appointments” specifically for meetings and calls. Calendly adds bookings to this calendar and checks for conflicts later so that two people can’t book you at the same time.
A useful feature is to have Calendly check other calendar categories for conflicts as well. For example, I have a “Sport” category for booking my CrossFit classes and I have Calendly check for conflicts with this category so people can’t book an appointment with me if I’ve already decided to attend a class.
Once you have your calendar settings in place, you can set up an “Event type”. Each event type can have a different availability window, duration and custom questions.
For example, I have an “Introductory call” type which takes 30-minute appointments and I ask people about what kind of services they need help with.
Then I have 30-minute, 1-hour and 2-hour event types that I can use to book calls of different durations with clients.
With your event types set up, you can start sending out links to your desired event type so that colleagues, friends or clients can book appointments with you.
Calendly tips and tricks
Okay, now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, here are some things I’m doing to take Calendly to the next level:
Use TextExpander for saving links – Rather than opening Calendly, finding your event type and copying the scheduling link each time you want to send it to someone, use TextExpander to spit out the links when you type a snippet. For example, if I’m typing an email, when I type “;calendly1hr” my 1-hour link will fill in. This is much quicker than saving your links to a note or navigating to Calendly each time. And with the links programmed into TextExpander, I can quickly access links from my email, on the web or phone.
Set up a “Busy” calendar – Let's say you’ve set your availability to be booked between 9 am and 4 pm. But imagine you have a doctors appointments at 10 am in your “Personal” calendar and Calendly isn’t set up to check for conflicts with that calendar category. This is where you can use a “Busy” calendar to block out time for yourself when you need to override your availability settings. It’s a bit like saying someone’s already booked you at that time (which they sort of have). I use a Busy calendar to block out portions of the day (or even the entire day) if I need to spend some time on other projects and I don’t want to give clients the option to book me during this time.
Connect Calendly with Zapier – When you connect Calendly with Zapier, you can make some pretty cool things happen. For example, when a new potential client books an introductory call with me, this triggers a series of actions where Zapier talks to my Pipedrive account, set up a new deal, adds in the client's contact information and creates an activity for me to call the client at the scheduled time. This manual data entry used to take me about 10 minutes per booking, but now, Zapier does all this for me. I’ve also worked with clients where we’ve used this booking to trigger an onboarding email reply that goes out via Gmail to ask the client to send through specific information before the call.
Even if you don’t take that many meetings or calls, I highly recommend you set up a free Calendly account. Then when you do need to book an appointment, you can save yourself (and other parties) a tonne of time.
If you’re using Calendly or another scheduling tool in a creative way, then I want to hear it. Please leave your feedback in the comments below!