There are numerous benefits to coworking, as we’ve covered in previous blogs. The one most people tend to think of first and foremost is the benefit of a distraction-free environment where you can be laser-focused on your work without worrying about Amazon ringing the doorbell (hello, Internet shopping), the dog barking, or piles of unwashed laundry clamoring for your attention.
There’s also the benefit of a professional environment, use of office equipment and resources, and, well, just being around other professionals (adults! for those “mompreneurs”).
But did you know your coworkers can also be one of your best resources for helping you build your business?
Maybe you’ve thought this, but you aren’t sure how to go about cultivating those relationships without coming off as a pest. No worries. We’ve got you. Here are some insider cowork community secrets to get to know your coworkers in a way that will not only help you grow your business, but will likely help them, and enrich everyone’s lives.
- Start with an open mind and an open heart. That sounds a bit woo-woo, I know, but hear me out. If you to into this process thinking “I need to meet X, Y and Z or I’ve failed!!” you’ll likely fail. Instead, embrace curiosity. “I wonder who I’ll meet today at Rising Tide?” “I wonder what interesting new members will join us this month and what they will bring to our community?” You never know who knows whom. One person you meet may not be the one who is an ideal client or your best referrer, but they could be the one who introduces you to the person who opens up huge opportunities for you. The key is to be open minded and willing to engage in conversation with new people.
- Always ask: How can I help? When you see others in the cowork space—at events, working day-to-day, in the breakroom—be the first to strike up a conversation. Pretend you own the place and you are the host (this works in almost any social occasion where you feel uncomfortable). Questions are your friend! Ask they how their day is going. If it’s appropriate, ask how you can help. Think about people you might introduce them to. Perhaps there’s someone you know who could use their services, or maybe there’s a vendor you can put them in touch with if they have a particular issue for which they are seeking help. If may be that they never return the favor, but it doesn’t matter, because that’s now how communities and collaboration work. If everyone on the community thinks and operates in that manner, others will be doing the same for you. As the founder of Business Network International, Ivan Misner says: “Givers gain!”
- Be consistent. You are more likely to grow your network effectively if you show up and engage with your cowork community consistently. Plan to be and work in the space at least several times a week. Engage with others while you are there. Do not just come in and sit in your favorite corner, and then leave without making a point to have a conversation with at least one or two other people.
- Participate in community events. Community events are for the benefit of the members. We create them just for you, so be sure to let us know what you like! Show up and participate as often as you can. Engage with the other members and with the staff. If you don’t know someone and would like to get to know them, but you are shy, ask us and we’ll introduce you.
- Remember: Building your network isn’t always just about meeting prospects. Yes, you’d love to meet ideal prospective clients, but how great would it be to meet your future best referral source? Or how about a trusted vendor partner on whom you can always rely? Or one who saves you thousands of dollars? Or a collaboration partner with whom you can team up on bigger projects?
- Ask us how you can participate in leading events. At certain membership levels, you are invited to lead and host events to showcase your expertise and share with use how you and your business serve others. Imagine: instead of introducing yourself one-to-one, now you are introducing yourself one-to-many. How does it get any better than that?
- Go deeper. Once you have had an opportunity to get to know people on a surface level (around the cereal bowl as we say around here), it’s time to dive in. Select a few people you really want to get to know on a deeper level, folks you think perhaps would make good collaboration partners, and invite them to join you for lunch. Ask them about their business and how they best serve their client. Ask them who their ideal client is. Tell them about your business. Tell them how you like to serve your ideal clients. Tell them why you think they two of you might be a complimentary team and how you could easily refer business to one another, or team up to pitch to prospective clients. Perhaps propose some upcoming projects. Listen carefully to their thoughts and ideas.
- Use the Rising Tide Community Forum (the Nexudus Intranet) to post, share and connect with other members. Reach out and ask for what you need! Looking to outsource or team up? Look within the Rising Tide community first. You might be surprised that what you’ve been looking for has been two desks down all along!
“Networking” can feel like an intimidating word, especially to those introverts among us. It doesn’t have to be, though, especially if you remember the person sitting next to you is probably just as intimidated by the prospect of starting up a conversation with you. Remember these eight tips and know that the goal of EVERYONE here at Rising Tide is to help you and your business succeed. It’s a safe place for you to experiment, try new things, meet new people, and ask for exactly what you need.