It’s been just four months since Reza Piri signed a contract for his office at WeWork Congress in Austin, Texas. But in that short amount of time, his business has grown from three to eight employees, including several who were fellow members at the same workspace.
“We’ve done a majority of our business through relationship building here at WeWork,” says Piri, CEO of the app developer Gennovacap Technology. “To sum it up, it’s been phenomenal.”
You might be a solo entrepreneur who just signed up for a desk at a shared workspace, or maybe you’re thinking about arranging for an office for your whole staff. Though co-working spaces are great places to work, you have to be proactive in order to reap all the benefits.
“If someone wants to get the most out of co-working, he or she has to be really motivated to succeed and build something with his or her own two hands,” says Piri. “People can make a lot out of this place if they’re willing to put forth the effort.”
Shared workspaces provide endless opportunities in terms of networking, and can help businesses grow exponentially. According to a survey of 2,706 co-workers conducted by DeskMag, 75 percent expected to increase their earnings in the coming year.
Want to get the most out of your time at your own collaborative workspace? We spoke with Piri and other WeWork members across the globe about how they maximize their time in our offices. Here’s what they had to say.
Talk to the people around you
Before you signed up for a co-working space, you had to attend networking events and reach out to others in your industry wherever you could find them. Now, you can network simply by going to work everyday.
“You’re only a foot or two away from someone who could be a partner for you or refer business to you,” says Piri. “It’s a hotbed of activity for businesses that are just starting.”
Piri likes to play ping pong at the table in the office or hang out by the keg and crack a joke to new people he’s never met before as a friendly introduction.
“It’s been a great facilitator for creating new connections and allowing me to grow my network and business,” he says.
Connect with your community manager
The first person you are likely to see everyday when you walk into your co-working space is your community manager. He or she is there to ensure that you have a great experience and succeed at your business.
“You need to get to know your community manager,” says Olivia White, creative director at the fashion bedding company 41 Winks. She has an office at WeWork West Broadway in Manhattan. “If I ever have any issues, my community managers are quick to resolve them. They really do believe in us.”
“I often ask the community managers to promote me in newsletters and wherever they can,” he says.
Reach out for advice
If you’re at home or in your own private office, you’re in a bubble. You might not have reassurance that what you’re doing is good, or will be a hit with your target audience. Thanks to shared workspaces, you can easily test out ideas and bounce them off other members.
“They know what you’re working on and they are excited about it,” Copley says. “When you ship the next feature or product, they’re anxious to try it out. You have a built-in testing community and people who will take a look at the product and watch it evolve and give you feedback.”
Attend the events, and hold your own
Your co-working space probably holds at least one event per week—often many more. These are environments where you can learn more about running your business and network with others.
As soon as White became a WeWork member, she began attending the events they held.
“That not only sparked my interest in meeting other people, but it also made the community managers here become aware of how involved I wanted to be,” she says. “I go to as many events as possible.”
If you have an idea for an event, you can reach out to your community manager about hosting one. You’ll meet other motivated entrepreneurs, teach them something new, and establish your authority in your industry.
Piri hosts networking happy hours and brings in speakers to talk about their entrepreneurial ventures.
“I hold events where I feature a variety of really high-level people I find useful in my business,” he says.
Since they’ve signed up for collaborative workspaces, all of these entrepreneurs say they’ve seen positive changes in their businesses.
“The more people that I meet here, the more I’m inspired,” says White. “You never know who you’re going to meet. I love being surrounded by people in all different industries.”
Copley agrees, saying the experience has been “amazing.”
“You have a collaborative community willing to help you get ideas,” he says. “You’ve got entrepreneurs with varying capabilities and skill sets. You have everything you need.”
Photo credit: Lauren Kallen