The best thing about coworking is the community. Yes, you’ll be more productive, you’ll make a ton of network connections, you’ll be invited to all kinds of cool events and you’ll have access to all the free coffee you can drink, but what makes coworking so great is being surrounded by talented, focused, freethinking people who sincerely want you to succeed in whatever it is you’re doing.
If you’re new to coworking, there are a few things you should do to tap into this stream of awesomeness as soon as possible.
# Introduce Yourself
Introverts beware: the best way to start meeting people in your coworking space is to introduce yourself to your fellow coworkers. Since you’re the newbie, people may wait for you to initiate contact because they have no way of knowing whether you’re there for an hour, a day, or for the next several years.
Most people will give you a friendly nod in passing or when you sit down near them. If you can do so without interrupting their work, take the interaction a bit further by introducing yourself and asking them about what they do.
# Common Areas
Here’s a well-kept coworking secret: some of the best encounters and most powerful connections happen in the community spaces: the kitchen, the couches and the lobby. These areas are generally buzzing with activity, with people chatting, eating, laughing, venting—all the good human stuff. Be sure to spend time in these areas and join in the conversations.
If you keep your head down and quietly slink to the coffeemaker and back, you give the message that you don’t want to connect. Be friendly, say hi, spend a little time.
As soon as you walk in the door, the front desk person who greets you should become your instant BFF. Take your attention away from your phone, emails and social media for a second to look them in the eye, smile and introduce yourself. Ask them their name (and remember it) because you’ll need him/her to get you through the day. But the connecting doesn’t stop there. Once you find a spot and get settled, look around and see if you can make friendly eye contact with any of the folks working around you.
It’s not easy, everyone is typically head down and working pretty intensely. However, if you can manage to make eye contact with a few folks it opens up the door to maybe have a conversation with them in the kitchen area, or if you both happen to walk to the bathroom at the same time. Introduce yourself, find out a little bit about what they’re working on and share what you’re working on too!
After you introduce yourself to a few folks you may find that there’s synergy or room to collaborate. When you’re working on a project the right collaborations are key, and you never know where your next potential partnership might come from. If you’re consistently working out of the same coworking space, collaboration becomes easier.
People will naturally approach you or gravitate towards you as they learn more about what you’re working on. Coworking spaces are naturally full of creatives and self-starters who like to collaborate naturally.
# Use Headphones Sparingly
Headphones are the universal coworking sign that you don’t want to be disturbed. If you really don’t want to be disturbed, headphones work surprisingly well. But, if you’re open to a hello, an introduction or question, don’t plug in. It sends the message that you’re not interested in the people or happenings around you. If you want to be part of the community, plug-in only when you need to.
# Attend Events, Workshops, Happy Hours, And Other Celebrations
Most coworking spaces have a running series of events, presentations, networking events, Lunch & Learns, and meetups. When your work schedule permits, attend these. They’re a great way to learn more about your fellow coworkers, you can make a few connections, and you’ll get a feel for the culture of the space.
One of the best things about being in a coworking space is that you get to celebrate wins with the people around you. You also get to decompress and talk about challenges you’re having with people who are in the same boat.
# Email List
Most coworking spaces have a way for members to ask questions, get referrals and share news. Maybe it’s custom software or maybe it’s a simple email list or group. Being active on these tools provides a low barrier of entry to your coworking community.
You can introduce yourself, answer questions or share an interesting link without even having to look up from your computer, and you’ll immediately start connecting with other members. This may not be as good as connecting face-to-face, but it’s a great way to join community conversations.
# Bring Snacks
You know what people love? Snacks. You know what they really love? Free snacks. Spending a few bucks to bring some chocolate, fruit, cookies or hummus is a sign that you’re friendly, approachable and excited to be part of the community. Don’t worry about being fancy-schmancy (though you can if you want)—the idea is to make a little gesture of friendship and community.
# Follow Your Coworking Space
Find out what social media sites your space and other members are active on. You can quickly introduce yourself through social media and when you follow and share posts from others, they’ll likely reciprocate and share relevant links, images, etc.
Bonus: post photos, videos, and quotes from your space and tag the space in them. This is a great way to share your experience and enthusiasm and it enables your space to showcase its humanness and community with a retweet or repost.
KOI Creative Space @Facebook, @Twitter, and @Instagram
# Show Up Regularly
Coworking day passes are great. They allow you to get a feel for coworking with zero commitment. That being said, as with a family, the best parts of a coworking community come through spending hour after hour, day after day, year after year together. You see people at their best and at their worst—and people see you at your best and your worst.