- Coworking Convos, the brainchild of coworking storyteller and content strategist Cat Johnson, reaches its one year anniversary this month.
- Coworking Convos provides an opportunity to share ideas, tips, questions and best practices with other operators and coworking pros on everything from marketing strategies to day-to-day workspace management.
- In this interview with Allwork.Space, Cat Johnson talks about the journey so far, how Convos has grown, and what’s in store for Coworking Convos in the future.
Coworking Convos, the brainchild of coworking storyteller and content strategist Cat Johnson, reaches its one year anniversary this month.
If you’re familiar with Coworking Convos, you’ll know it’s an invaluable opportunity to share ideas, tips, questions and best practices with other operators and coworking pros on everything from marketing strategies to day-to-day workspace management.
If you haven’t heard of Coworking Convos (where have you been?) you won’t want to miss this month’s episode.
Friday, October 30th, marks a very special Convo: Coworking Around the World, when operators from Pakistan, Serbia, New Zealand, and many more locations will come together for a fun, free community conversation to talk about all things coworking.
Ahead of the event, Allwork.Space checked in with Cat Johnson to learn about the journey so far, how Convos has grown, and what’s in store for Coworking Convos in the next 12 months, and beyond.
Allwork.Space: Wind the clock back one year and you’re running your very first Convo. How did you feel at the time? How did it go?
Cat Johnson: The topic for the beta Coworking Convo was using Yelp to market a space. My biggest concern before that one was the tech—that Zoom would behave—and whether 25 was too many. Convos require participation and I wasn’t sure it would still be engaging with 25. Those concerns are both a bit laughable now, because we’ve had hundreds of people participate. Our record is 409 registrants for a single Convo.
That scale means I need to take my job as a moderator and host very seriously—and I do. I make sure the conversation keeps moving and is on-track. It also means that I need a team of people to co-host with me. The Convos team, which includes Karina Patel, Kim Seipel, Liz Elam and Stormy McBride, handles all the todos so I can focus on the conversation.
Allwork.Space: One year on, what are the biggest changes and improvements you have seen in Convos?
Initially, no one knew what Coworking Convos were. As the word spread, Convos grew and attracted more attention and attracted more sponsors. I made a big mistake at this point. I felt like I needed to change or make Convos “more professional” or something—especially around sponsorship. So I started doing these canned sponsor mentions, which no one, including me, liked. Once I realized that the best approach is to keep things informal and just tell the participants about the sponsors and why I chose them, everything shifted into place for me, the participants, and the sponsors.
Allwork.Space: What challenges have you overcome along the way?
Keeping Convos growing and also authentic to me and our community is an ongoing lesson. What attracts people to Convos is that, even though they’re large, the tone is human and friendly. As long as serving our community and holding space for people to share and connect remains at the forefront of the Convos strategy, I think we’ll be okay.
I’ve also had to learn how to work with sponsors. This is the first time I’ve used a sponsor model for a project and I had a bit to learn about approaching them, providing value to them, tracking everything, communicating clearly with everyone etc. My friends at GCUC Community and CloudVO have been instrumental in helping me get around this learning curve.
I also have a time zone issue I’m not sure how to handle. I’m considering doing another Convo that hits a different time zone. People get up at 2, 3, 4 in the morning to join a Convo. I’d like to make it a bit easier on them.
Allwork.Space: What has been your favourite Convo so far?
That is an absolutely impossible question. After just about every Convo I think, ‘That was the best one yet.’ In general, the best Convos are the ones in which a bunch of participants join the conversation once the guests have shared their insights. Convos are, by design, different from other workspace virtual events. They’re community-powered so the more people share their experience and ideas, the richer the conversation becomes.
That’s going to be particularly true with the October 30 Convo, Coworking Around the World. I have guests from a handful of places, including the Netherlands, Pakistan, the States, New Zealand, Serbia and Cyprus/South Africa/UK, but coworking is certainly much larger than that. My hope is that we’ll hear from a diverse group of people from all over the planet.
Allwork.Space: Tell us more about Coworking Around the World, this Friday. Is there an educational element or is it more of a global friendly gathering?
It will definitely be educational, though in a broader sense than past Convos. I’m really looking forward to learning what the coworking scene is like in Pakistan, Serbia, New Zealand, and everywhere else! I imagine it looks a lot like it does in North America, where I am, but I expect that there are some big differences, as well.
Every time coworking space operators and pros get together, the knowledge exchange is remarkable. The people who gravitate to coworking tend to be extremely generous and collaborative. It’s inspiring to see people sharing ideas, best practices, cautionary tales and questions.
Allwork.Space: Looking ahead, what’s your big vision for Convos? Where do you hope it will be this time next year?
That’s a great question. Much of that will depend on what the global community of space operators wants from Coworking Convos. I try to let the community inform the topics and format. That being said, I’d like Convos to be a must-do for workspace operators everywhere. People tell me they walk away from Convos with pages of notes and ideas. Hopefully they make a few new friends and connections, as well. Convos has proven itself to be a sustainable project, so it’s time to scale a bit more internally and continue to find ways to bring more value to participants, while maintaining the elements people love about Convos—namely, the community.
Join Cat and the global coworking community on Friday, October 30th, for a special anniversary edition of Coworking Convos: Coworking Around the World. Register for free here.