Do you roll your eyes at the thought of networking? You’re not alone. Plenty of people find it less than thrilling.
It can feel stressful, fake, or just plain like a waste of time. You might even feel panicky and want to run away. One study found that networking literally made people feel dirty and increased their interest in body-cleansing products!
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Coworking is a great option for people who hate to network. In fact, it’s a method of networking that doesn’t even feel like you’re networking.
A coworking community offers daily opportunities to interact with a wide variety of people. There’s a natural mix of open-plan space and individual work zones. You can stroll through these areas and chat with people, without feeling fake or forced.
You might stop at the coffee counter and chat with someone, pop by the communal area at lunchtime, and linger in the parking lot to finish a conversation before heading home for the day. Guess what? That’s all networking.
The key to networking in an authentic way is to find spaces where people naturally have conversations. So join in a discussion. Ask a question about someone’s business. The more you do it, the easier it gets.
Casual, Open Environment
Another reason coworking makes networking so easy? It’s a casual environment. It feels laid-back.
Unlike most “official” networking spots, it’s not a stuffy meeting room or conference center. There’s no audience. It’s just a cozy space, almost like a professional living room.
Now, if you wanted to chat with someone in your living room, you wouldn’t keep your eyes on the ground. You’d look them right in the eye and smile. That’s why many coworking experts recommend that you find ways to physically look open to discussion at coworking spaces.
Here are some tips for giving off a welcoming vibe:
- Remove headphones in communal spaces
- Smile at people to invite conversation
- Openly discuss your passion about what you do
- Ask someone if you can grab them a coffee
- Bring in cookies or candy (if permitted) and share
- Simply ask open-ended questions about their job
- Attend a few community events that sound interesting
In a traditional work environment, people within the same company don’t usually network together. In fact, at a traditional office, people are usually in direct competition. They’re vying for promotions and recognition every single day.
But that’s totally different at a coworking community. It’s non-hierarchical. It’s non-competitive. It provides a sense of camaraderie, rather than conflict.
You might have people from 10 different companies sitting within 10 feet of you. That’s a lot of networking potential.
Chat with people from diverse backgrounds. Find a new mentor. Discover a business partner. Meet people you never would have met outside the coworking community. Seize this valuable opportunity.
Iris Kavanagh, a coworking consultant, shares this tip for anyone who is transitioning from traditional networking to networking within a coworking community:
“You don’t show up to a coworking space in the morning with your business cards handy and your elevator pitch in your mind and think, ‘I’m going to meet five new people today who I’m going to tell about my product or service.’ What happens instead is, you’re working, and someone else is working, and you might strike up a conversation. It’s not better or worse than traditional networking, but it might lead to a deeper connection because it happens more organically than in a forced environment.”
Are you ready to network in a new way? Victory Workspace serves professionals in the Walnut Creek, California area. To learn more, contact Victory Workspace for more information.