Coworking spaces are ideal spots to get to know other like-minded business people in an easy, authentic way. Coworking spaces can make organic networking a breeze if you keep it top-of-mind.
Check out these five surefire strategies for networking in a coworking space
1. Keep it casual (and be human)
Networking at a coworking space shouldn’t feel forced. If you are a naturally social person, the easiest thing to do is just start up some casual conversation in the kitchen or around the space when it makes sense.
When you get to talking about your work, make sure to pay attention to the other people and encourage a real conversation before jumping right in to talk about yourself. The best networking is mutually beneficial, so think about how you can help each other using your active listening skills first and foremost.
Action Idea: Bring in some lighthearted snacks to share and leave your business card next to them. Start a light conversation if you see somebody grabbing a snack or a card.
2. Respect people’s time and space
Yes, coworking spaces are great for networking, but people are also there to work. Don’t interrupt people when they seem busy or focused, and don’t rudely hog up people’s time in the break room when they may have something else they need to do.
Use social queues to figure out how open somebody is to have a networking conversation, and adjust accordingly. Annoying people is hardly a strategy.
Action Idea: If you want to connect with somebody for more than five minutes but don’t want to disrupt their workday, try to arrange a pre-work coffee, lunch meetup or after work drinks on a day that works for them.
3. Help create a networking culture in your space
Networking is ultimately about growing your own business, but everybody else needs to do it too. Make it easy for everyone by helping plan informational talks or meetups at lunch or after work.
If the first event is successful, you can make it a regular thing and encourage coworkers to bring new ideas and partnership opportunities to the table.
Action idea: Leverage your office manager to get the space on board for events. See if you can encourage people to briefly present about their business or offer some sort of valuable insight about their industry over coffee or drinks.
4. Offer a benefit or trade
If you want to get people in your space truly interested, find a way to make it work for both of you. After your initial introduction to potential opportunities, you can start to brainstorm reasons why their company would do well working with yours as a potential client or awareness-booster.
Do your research into the companies or businesses you want to work with, and create a plan for how you can benefit each other.
Action Idea: Ask for reciprocal social media posts, or co-plan a local event to reach your mutual audiences.
5. If you’re introverted, start with one person
If you were blessed with natural-born social skills, networking can feel more like fun than work. But for introverted people, it can cause real stress. One way to combat this is by starting small. Connect with one person first and focus on planning a one-on-one meetup instead of trying to navigate a larger networking event.
Once you get comfortable talking about what you’re passionate about, the whole process will seem a lot easier.
Action Idea: Go out to lunch with the office manager and ask about the other people and companies in the space. If you sense a partnership or networking opportunity, ask him or her for an introduction to avoid any potential for awkwardness.
Let us know if we can help!
Have networking ideas that we can help with? Let us know! We’d love to work with you to create a culture of success (while still having fun). Good luck, and happy networking!