Looking for an inexpensive and simple way to build brand recognition, connect with your local industry community, and bring in a diverse group of professionals to network with your team? Coworking events have enabled us to do just that, plus they are a lot of fun.
Most of us are familiar with the concept of coworking as it relates to pay-for-use spaces catering to those who work from home, consult, travel, or otherwise are not locked into a regular office work-space.
But Spreedly has put a twist on that concept by offering coworking days as special events.
Aside from showing off our kick-bootie space, coworking events serve to build brand recognition, community, and bring in a diverse group of professionals to network with our growing team (think covert recruitment potential).
We'll tell you what has worked for us with the expectation that you'll be able to find ways to make it work whatever your circumstances. We believe in you!
5 Steps to a Successful Coworking Event
Some of your employees will really, really not want to participate... Give them an out.
1. Consider your space and your people
At Spreedly our employees are required to be physically in the office on Tuesday and Thursday. The rest of the days they can be nomads.
I mention this because some of your employees will really, really not want to participate in a coworking day. Give them an out.¬†We‚Äôve found that about¬†half of our crew enthusiastically shows up, while the other half catches up with us later.
We have an open office floor plan without assigned seating (#startuplife), so no coworking guest is invading a Spreedling‚Äôs office or personal work space. Finding a way to invite coworkers into common space is a crucial success factor. You can work around a lot of obstacles, but you can‚Äôt have outsiders in someone‚Äôs assigned office or cubicle (cue the awkward turtle).
2. Consider your audience
If you invite them, they will come. For the first go-round it might be best to play it safe. Invite the people you see at all your Meetups, invite your mom, invite your ultimate frisbee team. But the next time, be strategic. Is your company looking to hire in the next quarter? Would you like to see more diversity in your space? Are you curious what people are up to from another industry? Talk to your team. Who are they interested in seeing? Let them help you target your audience and then let them help you recruit.
3. The invite
This is your chance to appeal to your audience. Give them a warm welcome. Let them know that yes, this coworking day is meant for them. And then give them the low-down. Be detailed. People want to know what to expect, where to park, whether you‚Äôll feed them (you will). They also need to know if there's a registration limit (there is), when to show up, and that you will have coffee.
Find an invite tool that works for your needs. Evite, Facebook, Google Calendar - there are a multitude of free options out there. We use
Minimize social awkwardness while maximizing networking opportunities.
4. The event
Like any social gathering it's important to ensure that your guests are comfortable. Because you‚Äôre working, morning cocktails are an inappropriate icebreaker, so you‚Äôll need other options. It's your job to minimize social awkwardness while maximizing professional networking opportunities.
- Does your workplace use a group chat tool? Invite your coworkers into the chat group for the day. We use a designated coworking day channel on Slack. This is a simple way to post about office news (fresh coffee!), throw out icebreaker questions, make happy hour plans, and ask questions such as "what's the internet password?"
- Have a group lunch (and pay for it if you can). We're going to talk about food in a moment, but breaking bread is a tried and true way to bring people together. Be sure to let people know the plan so they don't waste time fixing a bagged lunch.
- Have a designated event host. Your guests need a point of contact both before and during the event. This person should greet guests as they enter, give them a rundown of the space, and remain visible throughout the day.
5. Feed the people
So far you haven't been asked to spend any money, but everyone knows the best events have good food.
The coffee pot and the lunch table are where the majority of your face-to-face interactions are going to happen, so I recommend you not skimp here. We keep our kitchen stocked, but something as simple as coffee, donuts, and a fruit tray can go a long way.
Give people a reason to get up and walk around. Make the food and drinks accessible and be explicit that people are welcome to what you have. If your budget can swing it, have lunch catered, and make it a buffet. Capitalize on the amazing resource offood.
So there you have it, branding, community, and professional networking in one not-too-tough event. The most important thing is to be authentic. Use this opportunity to show off your company's space and to carve out a spot in your community.
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