While the origin of coworking spaces dates back to 2005, the concept took the world by storm in the post-COVID work landscape. To say that the popularity of shared workspaces is exploding won’t be an exaggeration. Especially for freelancers, remote employees, temps, SMEs and even solopreneurs, the ability to work, and the network have increased manifold.
On a lighter note, for many people, it is replicating the same ‘water-cooler conversation’ experience that people relished in the pre-COVID times.
Non-hierarchical coworking spaces are becoming a hub of networking
A shared working space offers an unmatched sense of openness to network and connect with like-minded individuals, and build a professionally cordial relationship that can lead to several collaborative opportunities. Besides, a non-hierarchical coworking space fosters a bonafide sense of community among people from different walks of life.
It is a no-barrier (usually an open door policy) office space that creates opportunities for new connections, brand promotion, and knowledge sharing with people from varied backgrounds.
Networking helps in creating work opportunities and bolsters businesses, but building sustainable professional relationships out of nowhere is not a cakewalk.
If you want to leverage the wonderful opportunity to connect, generate leads, or network at a coworking space, with a variety of community members, here are some pro tips!
1. Catch up over coffee
A quick chat with someone having coffee alongside could turn into a fruitful collaboration you never considered. A warm hello is all it takes to begin with, followed by a value-driven interaction and before you know, the shared time leads to mutual benefits professionally. (We are not discounting the possibility of flourishing, healthy friendship too, which means a happier you at work).
We take immense pride in the fact that our community managers try to bridge the gap by introducing the coworking community members to each other and facilitate interactions.
2. Step up to participate in the events organized in your centre
Events hosted by fellow community members or the centre are an optimal time to meet your ‘workplace neighbors’ and catch up!
It helps you keep ahead of what’s happening and facilitates knowledge exchange. Who knows it could be the perfect opportunity to lead to the discoverability of your skill-set, services or product to them?
Such repeated interactions could well make way for pitching ideas, generating interest in bartering for services, attracting business enquiries, or promoting your brand by sharing material (stationery, mugs, calendars) that creates a brand recall value.
3. Thrive together with ‘collective experiential learning’
One of the best advantages that coworking spaces offer up against a traditional workspace is, encouraging people to think “out-of-the-box”. The key factor contributing to this culture is the absence of unhealthy competition that can often make a workplace toxic.
An open, flexible, shared workspace is a pool of enthusiastic, self-motivated individuals who are driven and have their unique expertise.
While boosting the network, it is also a place that offers a great sounding board to bounce off ideas from each other, give feedback, share bitter-sweet success/setback stories, and the lessons learnt. So, try adding value to others, while enhancing self-learning, and make headway towards collective growth.
With the benefit of hindsight, you will see that the coworking space is also a thriving ground where community members can validate and support each other’s efforts towards achieving success.
4. Seek referrals and recommendations from your community manager
One of the key responsibility areas for community managers is to offer ease, convenience and a sense of comfort to the tenets/members at every level. It would be a good idea to consult them on how to widen your network.
They could help you find out about the members who may be at a similar stage as you, or can bring value to your work. Or perhaps, to boost your network they can suggest a work trade within the diverse community.
For example, when a solopreneur puts efforts towards building good relations with another member, together they can build a future business partnership that has tangible worth for both. At a coworking space, there is always an opportunity to improve your start-up prospects and create fruitful collaborations.
Look at coworking space as a fortress that helps you spark new collaborations, forge solid connections, and take your work trajectory upwards. When you step up to consult your coworking space manager or seek secretarial support, it can be every bit worth the effort.
5. Utilize recreational areas or the ideation space for rapport building
Recreational areas or the ideation space in a shared office is a good option to meet new people. Anybody is free to walk in this area filled with people to have fun with, or just unwind. The uniqueness of networking opportunities in such relaxed spaces is that it offers a fun and safe ambience to build rapport and find people with common interests.
The laidback and yet energetic vibe of this place can play an essential role in helping connect and collaborate with like-minded individuals.
6. Engage with your community members online
Another tip to enhance your networking skills is to actively engage with your coworking space members online, exchanging morning pleasantries, making small talk (while ensuring not overstepping boundaries or disregarding the comfort level of others).
A caveat here is to exercise restraint and take things slow. Focus on building healthy paced relationships, even in online communication.
7. Let your passion do the talking
There is a certain banality attached to the words, “selling”, and “promoting”. Some people run in the opposite direction, the moment they sense they are approached as a customer. And, that’s why when you display your passion, you are perceived as a fun and interesting person. Someone you approach may not need what you have to offer, but your passionate, pleasing persona can help you get recommendations from them.
People like to help individuals they like. So leave behind the pushy salesperson persona, and embrace your passionate side.
A final word
The new ways of networking at a shared office space help create an inspirational environment to grow your business or improve work efficiency.
Allow yourself to experience this wonderful concept of networking at coworking spaces. The more you connect with people, the better visibility and opportunities you get. Hopefully, these tips will push you to put some effort into networking at coworking spaces and collaborate to achieve your goals.