Gemma Church is “the freelance writer who gets tech”, a specialist journalist, blogger and copywriter for the science and technology sectors. She has used coworking throughout her career to improve her productivity and for networking opportunities. She has also written extensively about this topic and finds the evolution of coworking into a feasible option for every business, from sole traders to big corporations, a fascinating topic.
Coworking is regularly touted as a great way to improve your productivity. But if you decide to plug in your earphones and keep your head down, you could be missing out on a huge opportunity.
Networking is one of the biggest benefits coworking can offer you. It can be used in a variety of ways, whether you want to meet collaborators, competitors, prospective employees or business partners – there’s scope for you to find all the human resources you need under one roof to build your business.
While many coworking spaces encourage networking through regular events, open plan layouts and an informal atmosphere, approaching people and building a relationship is still incredibly difficult to do.
Here are five ways to network successfully in a coworking environment:
- Just Talk
This is a very obvious statement – but you have to be brave and start chatting to people. You could offer to help someone empty the dishwasher or just initiate a conversation by asking “how long have you used this space?”
Or, make yourself available to new conversations by having lunch in the communal area. It’s not rocket science and make sure you don’t dive in with a sales pitch the moment you start talking.
- Sign Up To Events
Coworking spaces regularly host events to build a community presence. Try signing up to a range of events, from workshops and seminars, to yoga classes and art exhibitions.
When you’re at an event, take a stack of business cards and chat to its attendees. And find out about other useful events in your local area.
- Host An Event
If you really want to showcase your business, then try hosting an event. It could just be an exhibit of your work or a workshop covering your area of expertise. It’s a great way to demonstrate your knowledge and passion, and meet new people.
“Our coworking space offers members the opportunity to use our event space to host a range of gatherings,” said Lucas Seyhun, co-founder at New York-based The Farm Coworking. “We always get great feedback from these community-driven events, and it’s great to see our space being used in so many innovative ways.”
- Swap Your Skills
Coworking spaces attract a diverse range of people, you never know who you are going to meet on a day to day basis. If you meet someone who would be beneficial to your business, try to offer a work trade where you swap skills to aid each other’s work.
For example, if you are a writer and another member is a web developer, ask them to help you build a new website. In exchange, you can help them with the copy that’s used on their sites or any other written work.
Sharing your knowledge in this way will also build your portfolio and contacts, opening the door to further work collaborations.
- Talk To Your Coworking Manager
If you’re struggling to network, you coworking space’s manager or staff are a good point of call. “I’m always happy to chat to our community members and help with networking. There could be an opportunity that I’m aware of and can pass on to that member. Knowledge sharing is one of the cornerstones of our work at The Farm Coworking,” Lucas added.