- By educating local people about coworking, you can teach them about the benefits of your space, how it can solve their individual pain points and ultimately, how it can help them achieve their business goals.
- During a recent Coworking Convo four coworking owners shared their own tried-and-tested advice on how to educate your local community and drive more business through your doors.
- Some ways to educate your community include working with nonprofits, using the right terminology, and telling stories.
Before launching a new coworking space, the golden rule is that you should build your community first. That way, you have an engaged group of people who are ready and willing to become members the moment you open your doors.
So how do you build a local community?
It all starts with education.
By educating local people about coworking, you can teach them about the benefits of your space, how it can solve their individual pain points and ultimately, how it can help them achieve their business goals.
During a recent Coworking Convo hosted by content marketing expert Cat Johnson, four coworking owners shared their own tried-and-tested advice on how to educate your local community and drive more business through your doors. The panel included:
- Nicole Vasquez – Deskpass
- Charlotte Kirby – The Village Hive
- Christy Alexander – Worksmart
- Iris Kavanagh – Women Who Cowork
In no particular order, here are 11 top tips they shared during the Convo:
- Word travels fast. “Something that has always worked best for me, is word of mouth,” says Charlotte Kirby. This, she says, doesn’t just come from nearby businesses but people who live locally too. The trick is to explain coworking when you talk about it, as many people still don’t know what it is. “Often when I’m talking to people about The Village Hive, they will say ‘Oh, I know someone who might need that’, which is how word travels.”
- Be that person. “Be the person people think of when they think of coworking,” says Nicole Vasquez. When an opportunity comes up to talk about your space, the conversation should focus on solving that person’s pain points rather than being overly self-promotional. “Don’t just jump in with ‘hey, I have this great space…’ say ‘tell me more about that, what isn’t working?’ and then explain the benefits. Until you understand what they’re experiencing, you don’t know if your space will add value.”
- Work with nonprofits. Offering up your space as a dropoff or pickup point for local nonprofit initiatives is a great way to show people that you exist. “The past 3 or 4 winters, one of my members has collected hats and mittens for local kids and schools,| said Charlotte Kirby. “I’ve been a drop-off spot for that drive, and other local collections. They come in and ask about the place, what it does, and people are curious. From that, people always know someone who needs space.”
- Use the right terminology. People outside the coworking sector may not associate terms like ‘community’ with a workplace. For Christy Alexander, coworking in her local area is largely unheard of. “We lead in with ‘shared office’ and build on that.”
- Host as many events as possible. Host popup events in your coworking space — it’s a great way to build information around what coworking is, and it will also help you build up a rhythm ready for when you host your own events for community members, says Iris Kavanagh. “So much of coworking is about being the leader. By hosting events, you will help make everyone else feel excited about it too.”
- Use third party platforms. Networks like Deskpass can help advertise your space to a wider audience through day passes and meeting bookings. “Let the service providers bring people to your door, then take over and wow them. It’s an easy no-brainer,” says Nicole.
- Share your members’ wins. Another tip from Iris is to “share your members’ wins” as often as possible across all of your marketing channels. That goes for social media, email newsletters, and also pitching what your members are doing to local media. “Your member stories have a lot of power behind them. When your members share it, their friends share it, and you get a lot more eyes on your space.”
- ‘Hello, neighbor’ When building their new space in North York, which was in an industrial area, Charlotte tried a different approach. “We looked at local businesses on Google Maps and sent each one a ‘Hello neighbor!’ email. We invited them to stop by and lots of them did, mostly because they were curious to see what we were doing.” This enabled Charlotte to connect with the local business network, which led to a number of leads.
- Offer day passes like Monopoly money. Iris has a large stack of business cards with day passes printed on the back, and she hands them out “like Monopoly money” — encouraging people to give them to friends and business connections. Before opening, she recommends attending as many events as possible and handing out cards while you’re there. “It’s the best thing you can do to double up the impact of handing over your business card.”
- Tell stories. Christy educated her local community through personal connections and sharing of stories, as these tend to live longer in the memory. “Rather than saying ‘yeah, we do this or that’ we say, ‘that makes me think of so-and-so’ and then you can share their story. That’s how we progress.”
- Serve your community. For Iris, your space isn’t just a place to do business. It’s a place that should serve your community. A great way to educate the local community is to host local groups — such as language learners, parent groups, classes, and so on. “Think of all the local groups that need a space for their groups. This is your local community. Serve them!”
Don’t forget to sign up to Cat’s next Coworking Convo on Friday October 30th: Coworking Around the World.