When freelancers choose to join a coworking space, productivity and professional growth tend to be two of the primary reasons. In this two-part series, we will cover a few pointers to make the most of your coworking experience and help you grow your own freelance or entrepreneurial efforts.
Network smart to get new business
Joining a coworking network puts you a conversation away from numerous new clients, partners and connections, but knowing when and how to network is trickier than it sounds. The best and most obvious time to network is at dedicated events arranged by your coworking space, like happy hours or after-work events. If your coworking network does not offer this type of event (and you do not want to step up and host one yourself), look for natural down-time as the best opportunities to make a new connection (such as lunch or during a coffee break.) Coworkers will be much more open to networking when they are not fully immersed in work, so consider politely stepping in to start a conversation if you notice someone taking a break for lunch, scrolling through their phone as they wait for a colleague to wrap something up, or even mid-commute if you happen to notice a fellow coworker taking the same route.
Once you have found the right time for an introduction, knowing what to say and how to be effective is often difficult and intimidating. Even though your goal may be to network for personal gain, remember that the person with whom you are speaking is going to be far less invested at the onset than you. Ask about their work, what they do, and what problems they are currently tackling. Finding common ground, like a mutual friend or shared professional, academic or leisure experience, can also help move your conversation forward.
Finally, find a way and a reason to follow up. Email or LinkedIn is a solid place to start, but your information may get lost or overlooked. Consider Twitter or Instagram if your social media is active and relevant to your work. Follow up in person too, and remember that a connection can be lost as quickly as they are gained if you do not work to keep your network up-to-date on your own work and show that you are still interested genuinely interested in getting to know the other person.
Impress your clients with a meeting space beyond the coffee shop
One of the sometimes overlooked perks of joining a coworking space is that you now have a comfortable, quiet place to meet with clients and other business partners. By joining a coworking space like KettleSpace, you will not have to worry about a lack of seating and you will never have to do the awkward dance around deciding who should cover the bill for snacks(but on that note, if you asked them to meet, you should at least offer to pay). KettleSpace’s plans all allow for guest access, and the long list of locations within the network means that you will always be able to find a space that is convenient for you and your guest.
Because KettleSpace coworking spaces are in some of New York’s hottest restaurants, you will also have access to breakfast and lunch menus that work great for affordable business lunches.
Beyond just being comfortable and convenient, having a proper space to meet shows potential clients or customers that you take your business seriously and are someone they can trust for a future partnership, contract or collaboration. Especially if you are meeting a new client or customer, making a great first impression can be make-or-break and knowing that you have a dedicated space to meet is just one less thing you will have to worry about as you prepare for your next important meeting.
Find the right approach to coworking that keeps you at your most productive pace
When coworking, if at first you don’t succeed… try again! Most major cities will offer a variety of coworking spaces and options, from larger networks like WeWork or The Yard that offer shared workspaces and private offices to a network like KettleSpace that offers affordable coworking in New York City restaurants. Location and price are certainly factors to consider when picking a coworking space, but also realize that you will be far more productive in some work environments than others.
During your first few weeks of coworking, track the work you are able to complete to monitor your productivity level. Some coworkers like to take advantage of their new schedule’s flexibility and start earlier or finish later than a traditional work schedule would allow. Some coworkers like to find a spot in the morning, plug in, and stay focused until the day’s end, while others require locations that offer a variety of seating arrangements for you to move around for variety and a change of pace. Ultimately, every space is going to be different and every coworker has different work habits, so be sure to try out different methods to see what makes you the most productive. A tough first few days does not mean that coworking is not right for you, it just means you have not found your rhythm yet.
When you are scouting out coworking networks, see if the location has a free trial or option for a day pass so you can get to know the space and the people who work there. KettleSpace, for example, currently offers a one week trial with no strings attached that can be used to test out working at any of their locations. For more on how to be the most productive in a coworking space be sure to read part two of this series, which focuses exclusively on coworking productivity tips.