When I first discovered greenCOW Coworking a few weeks ago, coworking was a mystery to me, but the great thing about coworking is that even as I was participating in the coworking environment just to learn about it, I was growing my network so seamlessly and naturally that I hadn’t even realized it until I was scheduling meeting after meeting with new potential collaborators and clients.
I want to share with you how I made each of these connections and how you can make similar connections at your nearest coworking space. Whether you go every day, once a week, or only a few times a month, the very nature of a coworking space will inherently play a major role in helping you grow your network.
But first I should take a step back and tell you a bit about who I am and my business. Even though I’m confident coworking can benefit your business network regardless of what type of business you have and what stage your business is in, I think it’s important to get the full picture so you can consider the role my business and experiences play in the advice I’m about to give.
In a few days, I will be graduating from Purdue University Northwest with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. I found out about greenCOW Coworking through Handshake, PNW’s job board, and applied for the internship namely because I have administrative assistant experience and I’m passionate about any organization or company dedicated to helping entrepreneurs succeed.
I knew little to nothing about coworking when I started working for greenCOW, but I was eager to learn. Twenty hours a week, I manage greenCOW’s social media, newsletters, and blog posts, but after I graduate in a few days, I will become a coworker as well.
When I talk to other coworkers, I inform them that I’m a social media consultant, copy editor, writer, and speaker and that I have over five years of experience working with a variety of individuals, companies and organizations. The services I offer are often in high demand, but I’m confident that the key to doubling your network in a coworking space is integrating the following techniques into your daily interactions with other coworkers:
- Remember that coworkers are people first, coworkers second: Thinking this way helps me immensely when talking to coworkers because it means the conversation isn’t guided by a desire to network or sell my services. What I really care about is how they’re doing and how their business is doing. What I’ve noticed is that conversation often naturally flows to problems they’re having with their business or new projects they want to pursue. Only when that happens do I offer to collaborate or work with them, and it’s with the intention to help solve a problem or help them succeed.
- Actively participate in events: In every event I’ve attended, someone has always walked up to me at the end of the event to give me a business card. At events, I often ask questions and offer my input if I have experience with whatever is being discussed. '
- Follow-up with coworkers: Most of my substantial interactions with coworkers happen in the kitchen while I’m making tea or at the table while I’m eating lunch. These conversations almost always lead to collaborations because they tend to flow naturally — just two people trying to get to know each other, not two business people trying to sell to each other — but because they’re so spontaneous, what was discussed can easily get lost in the void of forgotten spontaneous conversations. By sending a follow-up e-mail that reiterates what was discussed, that spontaneous conversation becomes a formal plan for the future.
Do you work at a coworking space? What is your advice for building business networks?