As individuals, and even more so as business owners, a strong NETWORK is essential to our success. As the old adage goes, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Coworking spaces play a powerful role in building networks, both internally among the coworking community and externally, connecting into the wider entrepreneurial ecosystem.
There are several roles that your space plays when creating networks. Both internal and external network builder, earpiece and loudspeaker. What are we going on about? Let me explain:
Internal network builder: Your coworking community is your internal network. To build strong ties between your members you need to create a culture of connection and opportunities for people to get to know each other.
External network builder: You should understand how your coworking space fits into the wider ecosystem of support relevant to your members. This requires an awareness of your identity as a space and the needs of your coworking community. Here you’re essentially doing some networking on behalf of your members, you’re building relationships they can tap into.
Earpiece: As with any kind of networking you need to make sure you’re listening – no one wants to be the self absorbed, loudmouth who won’t get off their soapbox at a networking event. The same applies with building your internal and external networks. No matter how amazing your community is, if you turn up on someone’s doorstep and give them a sermon on why they should care about it, they’re not going to buy it. You need to find ways to demonstrate the value of connecting with your community. The same applies internally, listen to the needs of your members and go from there. If you miss this step you might end up building an extensive external network for your members that doesn’t suit their needs personally or professionally.
Loudspeaker: Find ways to shout about your community – tell people about the impressive projects your members are working on, share opportunities from around your external networks and promote the benefits of this collaborative approach. You might do this on social media, in the press or with events, in fact this is an opportunity to get really creative. Being an effective loudspeaker can be a lot of work, but it’s an important way of positioning yourself as true place-makers!
Due to membership at The Melting Pot 82% of our Members have expanded their Network and 79% have made professional connections – this doesn’t happen when you’re working at your kitchen table! In an age of increasing isolation coworking spaces have a real opportunity to build fit for purpose, modern workplaces for communities of all shapes and sizes and we can do this most effectively when we share what we know with who we know!
The Coworking Canvas
This blog is part of a series demystifying our Coworking Canvas – a practical tool for developing the 6 key areas central to a thriving coworking community. The canvas was designed by our sister organisation the Coworking Accelerator drawing on over a decade of experience building The Melting Pot. If you are considering starting your own coworking business come along to our EXPLORE Coworking workshop on the 18th & 19th June 2019 in London – you’ll work alongside other coworking leaders as our team shows you how to apply these tools to your coworking venture.
You can find the other blogs in this series here.