It’s no secret that coworking spaces are professional melting pots. That’s a big reason why so many people join them: they’re more than just walls, desks, and chairs. They’re a community.
Being in a shared workspace lets you network and connect with people you otherwise might not meet. It gives you the opportunity to learn from others and to let them learn from you. And it gives you access to a ton of potential collaborators and clients.
Looking for a marketer? A writer? An accountant? A lawyer? A web developer? There’s a good chance you’ve got one in your coworking community.
But growing your network, let alone actually being able to leverage knowledge and expertise from that network, can be daunting, even for the most extroverted person.
So, we’ve put together five steps to help you make the most out of your coworking network.
1. Find Your Perfect Fit
If you’re joining a coworking space with a goal of learning and networking, there’s an important first step to take before you even sign up: consider what type of membership option will be most conducive to your style of networking.
For instance, if you’re a solo pro who’s less confident about being proactive in mixing and mingling, you might want to start out with a coworking membership rather than a private office membership.
Because this way you’ll be more immersed in the communally shared workspaces and among other members in a way that you might not be with a private office.
On the other hand, if you’re more extroverted and feel confident putting yourself out into the community but you need a private workspace to get stuff done, a private office might make for a great home base. That way, you can head out into the coworking community and communal areas when you want to meet people, then head back to your private workspace when you need to put your head down.
2. Come Prepared to Make Connections
Sometimes it can be daunting trying to strike up a conversation with another coworking member. But the reality is that most members are open to chat while they’re grabbing a coffee or attending a social event.
If you’re not sure what to say, you may want to prepare an introduction about yourself ahead of time and some key points about your industry.
As an ice breaker, you could also ask people for recommendations on things like their favorite lunch spots, a gym, or whatever you enjoy socially.
You should also make sure you take a genuine interest in their business.
You could even offer your advice and expertise or offer to introduce them to contacts that could help them achieve their goals.
Just remember that they’re a busy professional like you and are ultimately there to work, so make sure to read the room when you’re introducing yourself. Do it in a respectful way–you never know who’s working on a tight deadline.
3. Break Down Barriers
While it’s important to work and get into the productivity zone, remember to take breaks and ensure that you’re conveying an appearance of being open to conversation.
For example, if you listen to music while you work, take off your headphones while taking a break or wandering around the space.
By projecting that you’re open and not appearing closed-off, you can break down an invisible wall and invite a conversation from a fellow coworking member.
4. Get Proactively Involved in the Community
The number one way to foster connections and develop your skills from fellow coworking members is to get actively involved in the community.
At Launch, we have an ongoing calendar of member events including educational seminars, networking opportunities, and social events. If you want to grow your circle of contacts while growing your business, getting involved in these activities is a great way to do it.
You can also look into non-work-related community events where you can engage with people in a lower-pressure setting, such as yoga sessions and mindfulness seminars.
5. Grab a Coffee and Start a Chat
Communal spaces, like the café or a lounge area, are a quick and easy way to network. Most members who are getting a coffee are looking to disconnect from their screens, refresh their brains, and unwind for a minute, making it an opportune time to introduce yourself or ask a question.
There are a ton of ways to start building your coworking connections and growing your knowledge. Just remember to be proactive, be open, and be social. It only takes one conversation to create a connection.
If you’re interested in becoming part of a professional community, get in touch with us today to learn more about the benefits of a Launch membership.