How to Make the Most of Limited Time in a Coworking Space
Coworking spaces and shared offices offer a variety of workspace options, from day passes and cafe memberships to meeting rooms, dedicated desks and private offices. You can go heads-down and get some work done, connect with fellow members over coffee, host meetings, and collaborate on projects in these shared workspaces. They’re also fantastic places to network like a pro, without having to attend traditional networking events.
Some people in these spaces are full-time members while others stop in occasionally or work from a variety of coworking spaces, depending on what town they’re in. Even if you’re not a full-time member, you can still connect with others and take advantage of the time you do have in a coworking space or shared office. Here are nine tips to make the most of limited time in a coworking space
1. Attend Events Coworking spaces generally have a calendar of events, including informal networking events, Lunch and Learns, professional development presentations and workshops. Check the calendar to see what events may be happening on the days you’re in the space. It may be well worth your time to grab lunch and bring it back to the space for a great Lunch and Learn about video marketing or time management, or stay an extra hour for a presentation from a local mover and shaker.
2. Say Hello This should go without saying. Say hello to the people you encounter in the space. Existing members may not realize you’re new to the space and a quick hello is a good way to start a conversation and learn more about their interests and work. These casual conversations can take place while you’re getting a coffee refill, checking out the member wall or calendar of upcoming events, or with those sitting with you at a community table. When you’re in a shared space, it’s easy to stay heads-down and not connect with anyone, but my experience has been that people are generally quick to respond if you extend yourself just by saying hello. And you never know where those conversations might go.
3. Sign up for the Newsletter If you enjoy working in the space you’re in, subscribe to the mailing list so you can stay in the loop about upcoming events, community announcements, member news, etc. You can find out a lot about a community just by following along the regular news. You’ll also have an early heads-up about events and celebrations you may want to attend.
4. Fill Out Your Online Profile If you’re a part-time member or a virtual member, fill out your profile on whatever member platforms may exist. This may be as simple as adding your company and contact information to the group email account, or it may be filling out a more extensive member profile that includes interests, areas of focus, background and current offerings.
5. Respond to Member Forum Questions If there’s a community board or forum for the space, participate in it and share generously of your skills and insights. One of the longtime members of my home coworking space jumps at the chance to offer tech and business suggestions and insights. He does it because he’s a generous, active member of the community. Doing so, however, also establishes him as a go-to person when people need to hire a specialist.
6. Join the Space’s Slack Team and Facebook Group If the space has social media communities, such as a Slack team or Facebook group, join them and share generously of your experience and knowledge. While members may only see you in the space occasionally, you can still be an active participant in the community by asking and answering questions, sharing resources and reaching out to other members.
7. Connect with the Community Manager One of the first things you should do when visiting a new coworking space is to connect with the community manager. They’re in-the-know about everything happening in the space and are generally extraordinary networkers. Ask them if there’s anything interesting happening on the horizon and the best ways to get engaged with the community. Let them know what you’re working on and if you need any help. They may be able to introduce you to people who can help your further your ideas and business.
8. Follow the Space and Members You Meet on Social Media One of the simplest ways to keep up with what’s happening in a coworking space is just to follow them on social media. From short tweets about what’s happening in the space to Facebook Live streams that give you a deeper look into the community culture, to links to blog posts, silly Instagram Stories and more, social media can give you an insider’s look at the space and its members.
9. Bring Food to Share If you want to make friends and connections in a coworking space, bring something delicious to share. You’ll make an immediate, positive impact and people will be glad to strike up a conversation with you. If you’re in a space for a limited time, you don’t need to go out of your way to connect with people and engage with the community. But you never know where those casual connections may lead so you may as well put yourself out there.
Cat Johnson is a writer and content strategist focused on coworking, community and the future of work. Publications include Shareable, Yes! Magazine, Mother Jones, Triple Pundit and GOOD. She’s the author of Coworking Out Loud, a guide to content marketing for coworking spaces and collaborative teams. Follow her on Twitter: @CatJohnson