Networking is vital for every type of business. Not only can it help you to expand your client base, but it can also lead to collaborations and new professional partnerships while also stimulating creativity, innovation, and reflection.
This is why traditional networking events used to be so popular. They were the only way for professionals to meet like-minded people. However, at the same time, the forced smiles and endless handshakes meant that very few professionals actually enjoyed attending these networking seminars and conventions.
Fortunately, thanks to the rise of coworking spaces, professionals now have a new way to network. Read on as Circle Hub talks you through the vital role that coworking plays when it comes to building a dynamic professional network.
Close Proximity Makes it Easy to Make Professional Connections
One of the biggest advantages of networking in a coworking space is that you’ll be in close proximity to so many other professionals. Each and every day, you’ll be surrounded by people from a huge array of industries. This means that your options will seem almost limitless when it comes to meeting interesting new people.
This is particularly the case if you make use of a coworking space’s hot desking facilities. At Circle Hub, we refer to these as Hot Spots. These are working areas where you can simply turn up, choose an available desk, and get to work, with no advanced booking required. Work at our Hot Spots and you’ll likely find yourself sitting next to somebody different each time you come in. This can really help when it comes to building new professional relationships.
The Flexibility to Choose When to Network
The thought of always having to be social can often dissuade people from using a coworking space. However, the great thing about networking while coworking is that the option to network is completely up to you.
If you’re in the mood to meet new people, pick a desk in the center of the room where you’re surrounded by others. Likewise, if you have an important project to work on and don’t want to be disturbed, book yourself a designated desk in a quiet corner, where you’re less likely to be interrupted. This system allows you to reserve a desk of your choosing for however long you need it. Once you’re done working on your own and are ready to mingle, you can then move yourself over to a hot spot desk.
Of course, if you need some extra privacy, you always have the option of hiring a private office suite. Available for rent by the hour, this is a cost-effective way to work independently on confidential tasks. Once you’re done, you can then go back to making the most of the networking opportunities around you.
Social Facilities Encourage Networking Between Likeminded Professionals
There’s only so much professional networking that you can do while sitting at your desk. After all, this isn’t a social environment where you can mill around the room and chat to people at your pleasing. The coworking members around you will be working and, while they might not mind a short interruption, this isn’t the place for a long conversation.
That’s why so many coworking spaces offer social facilities too. They’re ideal for when you need to take a break. Since everyone else who will be using those social amenities will also be enjoying some downtime, it’ll be much easier for you to mingle and meet other professionals.
Some coworking spaces offer more in the sense of social facilities than others. At Circle Hub, we have a number of amenities that our members can enjoy. Not only will they help you to expand your professional network, but you’ll likely build on your social network too. Whether you hang out with people who are into fitness at our on-site gym or chat with other gamers while kicking back in our gaming room, we’ve tried to set up our social facilities so that we have something to offer to everyone, no matter where your personal interests may lie.
Relaxed, Informal Events Make Networking More Enjoyable
Not only can traditional networking events feel stuffy and forced but they also require a fair chunk of your free time. As a result, it’s hardly surprising that surveys have found that roughly 50% of professionals feel they simply don’t have the time to network, even though networking can be so beneficial in the long run.
However, this all changes when it comes to the networking events offered by a coworking space. Rather than having to sit through a dull seminar or workshop, these events tend to be much more relaxed. This immediately boosts attendance while also making the overall vibe of the event more enjoyable. As you can imagine, this has a knock-on effect on the networking that’s done at these events. When people are genuinely enjoying their surroundings, networking happens in a more natural way.
Take Circle Hub’s networking events as an example. There are a few to choose from each week, making it easy to fit one into your busy schedule. They’re also low-pressure and extremely casual. From group breakfasts to yoga sessions, our events enable you to build your professional network in an easy and informal way.
Community Managers Can Help With Introductions
If you’re an extrovert, you’ll likely find that networking at a coworking space comes very naturally to you. You’ll be able to strike up a conversation with others with ease. Whether this means introducing yourself to the person sitting at the desk next to you or joining in on the conversations that are taking place in the kitchen, extroverts usually have no problems when it comes to breaking the ice and forming an initial connection.
However, for introverts, this isn’t quite as easy. The thought of having to put yourself forward and meet other professionals can be daunting.
This is understandable, but it’s something that a coworking space’s community manager can help with. Just about every coworking space (at least the good ones!) will have a community manager on site. It’s their job to keep an eye on everything, ensuring that the coworking space is running smoothly. They’ll also be very familiar with the members who visit a coworking space. This means that they’ll be perfectly placed to make any necessary introductions. If you’ve been struggling to network and need a helping hand, the community manager is the perfect person to turn to.
Tips for Networking in a Coworking Space
As you can see, coworking spaces have really transformed the way in which people network. This is why, according to statistics, 82% of people who use a coworking space have found this to be an effective way to expand both their social and professional networks.
Want to ensure maximum success when it comes to your networking efforts? Here are some tips to keep in mind:
Make the First Move
As we mentioned earlier, not everyone is an extrovert. Therefore, it will always be beneficial if you try to make the first move when it comes to striking up a conversation with the other professionals around you.
Whether this means saying a quick hello to the people around you as you arrive at your desk or coming up with an ice breaker when you’re grabbing some refreshments from the kitchen, being the one to put yourself forward will pay off big style when it comes to building your professional network.
Be Friendly and Authentic
Of course, once you do strike up a conversation with someone, it’s important to be friendly and authentic. Even though networking may be your main aim, it shouldn’t come across this way. You’ll likely find that people respond to you in a much more positive light if you don’t appear to have an agenda.
Spend Time in Communal Areas
While working areas are great for a quick introduction and a brief chat, the majority of networking at coworking spaces occurs in communal areas. Therefore, in order for you to really reap the rewards of networking, you’ll need to spend as much time as possible in those communal spaces.
At Circle Hub, this is easy since there are so many communal areas to choose from. We’ve already talked about our social facilities but you could also simply hang out in our kitchen for a while, initiating a conversation with the other people that use that space. We also have other communal areas dotted throughout the building, with comfortable sofas where you can sit back and enjoy an informal conversation with other members.
Share Your Knowledge
One way to quickly acquire new professional connections is to share your knowledge as much as possible. The great thing about coworking spaces is that everyone who attends will have their own skill set. Being generous when it comes to sharing these skills is a great way to encourage bigger collaborations in the future.
Say, for example, you walk into the kitchen and overhear people discussing the marketing challenges that they’re having. If you’re a marketing whizz, step in and offer your thoughts. Chances are that your perspective will be very welcome. Even better, it will also mean that those particular professionals will be much more likely to return to you the next time they need some advice.
As discussed earlier, there’s a time and place for networking, even in a coworking space. There’s nothing wrong with briefly introducing yourself to the people sitting at the desks around you but it’s also crucial for you to respect boundaries. If you see someone hard at work and deep in concentration, it goes without saying that interrupting them wouldn’t be wise. Sure, some people can bounce back from distractions quickly. However, for others, even a short distraction can really interfere with their workflow. An interruption could make them less likely to want to speak to you.
So, if you see someone that you would like to talk to, choose an appropriate time to do this, especially if they appear to be hard at work.
Networking can really help a business to succeed, making it something that everyone should be doing. Whether you already work from a coworking space or you’re still deciding whether or not this would be a good move for you, the way in which coworking can give your professional network a huge boost is something that’s well worth taking full advantage of!