How to Grow Your Network with Coworking Spaces and Where to Find One

\"coworking\" Coworking spaces offer opportunities to network, meet new people, and brainstorm ideas with fellow coworkers. Image courtesy of officenomads/Flickr Coworking (spelled coworking, not co-working) is the perfect solution to the isolation, distractions or discomfort telecommuters and stay-at-home workers tend to experience after prolonged periods of being cooped up in their home offices alone with no colleagues to talk to. Professionals from across so many industries are welcome in coworking spaces, and they don\’t have to be employed by the same company. Naturally, this would mean coworking spaces are where cross sections of people from different business sectors come to work alone together, so to speak. The result is a friendly, productive and collaborative environment that doesn\’t dictate a schedule, space or work designation. Coworking will probably be the best decision you make if you\’re any of these:
  • Tech startup
  • Independent freelancer
  • Graphic or web designer
  • Programmer
  • Stock broker
  • Telecommuter
  • Freelance writer/editor
  • Local artist
  • Small business owner
  • Virtual assistant
There\’s also one benefit of coworking you can\’t deny – opportunities of growing your network or business. Picture this: you\’re doing work while surrounded by other professionals, freelancers and entrepreneurs. Imagine the possibilities of networking and attracting potential clients simply by bumping into them or having a nice, casual chat, especially since it\’s very easy to show what you\’re working on to the person sitting next to you.

Are business cards appropriate in coworking spaces?

\"business Most people go to coworking spaces to work, so do business cards belong in coworking communities? Image courtesy of imagerymajestic/ First off, let\’s answer one of the most obvious questions of coworking: Do business cards belong in coworking communities? Business cards are powerful marketing tools, but only when used appropriately and at the right time. For most entrepreneurs, an ideal technique would be striking up a conversation with someone working around them, finding a connection, getting to know that person, deciding to stay in your and then moving in for the final stage – ask to swap business cards. However, in several coworking places, no one usually carries a business card because why bring one when you\’re here just to work, right? You could even encounter coworkers who think you\’re weird for carrying business cards when everyone else is busy working or socializing. So, the answer to the aforementioned question is: not really. This is a common dilemma among people new to coworking. Once you enter a coworking environment, know that business cards and elevator pitches don’t exactly fit here. Coworking is unique and requires a different approach if you want it to work for your business. For one, by simply sitting there, interactions can commence – the person next to you will introduce himself and ask what you do; your coworkers will invite you to have lunch with them; and you\’ll exchange stories about irksome clients. The next thing you know, you\’ve landed a new client.

How do you network then?

Don\’t fret about not being able to network like how you used to because many coworking spaces actually throw events and facilitate introductions to encourage networking among members. The coworking place Indy Hall, for example, has members that take the initiative to form meetups and events. Below are the best ways to network and take the full advantage of your coworking community. \"networking Networking always starts with a hello. If there\’s an event, put your beer down, step up and say hello. Image courtesy of stockimages/

Technique #1. Say Hello

This is the simplest way to start making friends and connections. If the coworking office has an online group, like a Google group or email list, that\’s a good opportunity to introduce yourself and what you do. Or better yet, do it in person, and when you bump into familiar faces, it\’ll be easy to initiate a friendly chat.

Technique #2. Connect Online

Following your coworkers on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or some other social network can both engage your fellow coworkers and strengthen the bond you\’ve already started. Ask the coworking organizers if there\’s an internal online community for members only that you can join, like a Twitter list or a LinkedIn group.

Technique #3. Offer Your Skills

Make your skills known whenever you get the chance, and exchange skills with others. If you\’re a programmer, maybe that writer at the table in front of you may need IT assistance. If you overhear someone talking about their Google Analytics problems, try to jump in and lend a hand. Likewise, ask assistance from others if you\’re in a tight spot.

Technique #4. Make Friends with People over Lunch

A 30-minute mealtime can be enough time to get to know people and be involved in conversation. Don\’t sit down with friends; instead, eat with people you don\’t know. Visit communal areas or the most social spots. There\’s almost always conversation wherever there\’s food or beverage.

Technique #5. Hold Community Meals

If there\’s no space for gathering everybody for meals, there are other options. All you need are organizational skills, a motivated associate or two, and food. Treat your members to some breakfast, or brunch if they don’t like getting up early. If there is one thing coworkers love it is food. You\’ll be amazed at how ordering pizza for all of them can do.

Technique #6. Take Them Out to Dinner

When you find someone you want to know at a personal level, dinner \”meetings\” are just the thing. Of course, don\’t talk about business only. Ask how they\’re doing and talk about what\’s interesting to them. And make sure you pay for the dinner. \"coworking Jellies are gatherings for independent workers. They can happen anywhere—cafes, bars, restaurants, and even living rooms. Image courtesy of mokolabs/Flickr

Technique #7. Go to Jellies

A term popular among coworking circles is \”jelly\”. Jellies are informal coworking events and everyone\’s usually invited. They\’re also opportune times to expand your network.

Technique #8. Attend Parties

This isn\’t one of those corporate parties where you have a few drinks with your boss in the office. Be ready for real fun! At the same time, use this time to extend your network, just make sure not to push people for information. Also, remember that what happens at the party stays there – don\’t leak everything you hear.

Technique #9. Have Fun and Be Yourself

Since most coworking joints have an informal ambiance, it should be easy to relax and be yourself. Start by focusing on friendly looking people, and just have fun. Don\’t try to be someone else.

Technique #10. Don\’t Be a Networking Hog

The person who hands out a business card to everyone they see can be really annoying. They may be able to approach hundreds of people, but wouldn\’t be able to create personal relationships. Your goal here is to create personal relationships and you don\’t do this by being superficial.

How coworking helps your business/brand grow

1. The numbers say it all. The many social, financial and business-related advantages of coworking were measured by the Global Coworking Survey conducted by Deskmag, the online magazine about coworking. This is what they found:
  • 86% of coworkers said their business network expanded since joining coworking communities
  • 76% reported their productivity increased
  • 93% said their social circles significantly grew
  • 88% said their isolation vanished or decreased
  • More than one-third of surveyed coworkers said their income increased
The key element, strongest selling point and most valuable asset of any coworking space is the community within it. Even being in close proximity with other independent workers each with different skill sets can inspire innovation and creativity, and encourage you to form meaningful business and social relationships. \"coworking When you\’re around industry experts and people with professions related to your industry, new clients and gigs can come. Image courtesy of noneck/Flickr 2. Clients are all around you. Coworking facilities allow you to land new clients even with just a quick chat because your coworkers themselves are your prospects – they can immediately see the kind and quality of work you provide. Also, word can spread quickly. If the coworking group works and plays together and if you successfully service clients from the group, word can get out about how reliable your services are. The next thing you know, more people will seek out your offerings. 3. Acquire brand ambassadors. Several other members of coworking communities want to promote their brand through the group as well. Consider helping others so they can endorse your business in return. Some societies actually ask their coworkers information and updates about their respective companies so they can help each other become ambassadors to each others\’ business. 4. Spontaneous collaboration. You will encounter entrepreneurs who are also looking to expand their business. What\’s more, when you\’re in a friendly environment with other entrepreneurs, brainstorming and collaboration can ensue from random conversations and spontaneous chats. 5. Finding new talent. There are lots of opportunities here to scout for new talent to perform for your own business because a community filled with experts is a huge talent pool. While most people join coworking spaces to perform their own work, you can always offer them lucrative job positions to try to hire them.

What if you\’re not a people person?

\"how Networking involves approaching new people and experiencing new things. Coworking makes this easy. Image courtesy of imagerymajestic/ First of all, you\’ll hardly even feel anxious to talk to random strangers in coworking spaces because more than half of coworkers are freelancers. According to Deskmag, 54% are freelancers and 20% are entrepreneurs. This means the encounters and conversations will be anything but forced. At the same time, you can\’t expect to form a community if you just sit at your desk and stare into a screen with earphones plugged in. Even if you\’re not an entrepreneur, networking could be good for you if you\’re, say, a graphic designer or web programmer looking for commissions.
  • Join group activities. If you don\’t feel like talking to your coworkers or even if you feel like an awkward person, being in a group can save you from discomfort. You don\’t have to be the center of attention, and you can let others take the lead in the conversation.
  • The art of small talk. Practice your networking skills with friends, preferably those who you haven\’t seen in a while. If you can form warm, active interactions with them, you can too with your coworkers. Start with coworkers who are friendly towards you. If you develop these skills, you\’ll form a large network in no time.
  • Befriend an extrovert. Find a naturally extroverted coworker as they might be able to introduce you to others. It\’ll be easier to meet new people, and your extrovert friend can help fill up awkward moments.
  • Talk to other wallflowers. Remember, you will have to do some networking by yourself eventually. When that time comes, look for other shy people. If you\’re the kind who likes to wait for others to start the conversation, know that there are others just like you. Even some executives like to stand by themselves hoping someone will talk to them first.
  • Force yourself to be talkative. Sometimes, putting yourself in a situation where you\’re forced to talk to almost everyone helps. Volunteer to be the greeter at a party or an event, for example. You\’ll find it easier to talk to people because they see your face around or have remembered you.
  • Develop conversational skills. Read good books about effective communication and research things to say to start a conversation. Then apply what you learned. Don\’t forget to display a positive attitude, whether it\’s for business-related or casual events.
Coworking has changed the way entrepreneurs, freelancers and other professionals carry out their work. Working now is more than just carrying out routine tasks, getting new clients and meeting deadlines. Consider ditching your office desk now and join the nearest coworking space! Don\’t know where to find the nearest coworking space in your area? Don\’t fret. We\’ve gathered a bunch of them.


\"ideal1. IDEAL

4035 St-Ambroise Montréal QC H4C 2E1 Website: A convenient workplace for self-employed individuals, freelancers and entrepreneurs, IDEAL offers an environment that promotes collaboration, creativity and business development. It has the following services and amenities:
  • A 6-person meeting room
  • Individual or small team office spaces
  • Coffee and tea
  • Kitchen, dining area and lounge
  • Postal address
  • Cleaning services
For permanent members, the membership fee is $60 per year, while the rates for the reserved office spaces vary:
  • Open office spaces #1-5 — $325/month
  • Closed office #1 — $420/month
  • Closed office #2 — $445/month
There are packages for occasional members as well:
  • $4/hour; $25/day; $100/week
  • Access to meeting room: $12/hour

\"nexus2. Nexus Montreal

4475, boul. St-Laurent, 2nd floor (corner of Mont-Royal) Montreal, Quebec H2W 1Z8 Website: A coworking space aimed at serving small business owners and self-employed professionals. Provides:
  • 18 work stations
  • 7 closed offices
  • Office equipment
  • Conference rooms
  • Kitchen and dining area
For $219 per month, members can take advantage of meetings rooms, kitchen, printers, 24/7 access to the office, an exclusive desk and chair, Internet connections, and other office amenities. The close offices range from 1 to 5 persons per closed room.

\"station3. Station C

5605 avenue de Gaspé, suite 204 (just above St. Viateur) Montréal, Québec H2T 2A4 Website: Here is where you can surround yourself with creative, determined freelance workers, designers, writers, developers, marketing consultants, startups and entrepreneurs. Stations C is an open co-working space with amenities and facilities including:
  • Shared and reserved desks
  • 3 soundproofed meeting rooms
  • Kitchen and communal area
  • Café in the ground floor
  • Garage
All members have access to the high speed Internet, work desk and chair, large conference room, small meeting room, furniture in the lounge area, espresso machine, and the kitchen. There are various price rates:
  • $60/month — 3 days per month from 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM (additional days cost $15 each)
  • $175/month — 3 days per week from 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM (for an extra $75/month, get access to unlimited nights and weekend)
  • $350/month — unlimited access 24/7, including dedicated desk, chair, pass code, keys and filing cabinet
  • $25/day and you can try once for free

\"the4. The Network Hub

170 & 300 – 422 Richards Street Vancouver, BC V6B 2Z4 Website: The Network Hub\’s Vancouver location is a place for freelancers, contractors, mobile professionals and small business owners. Unlike other coworking spaces, it allows companies to join, but only one company from a specific industry is allowed to maximize the sharing of expertise among members. All members can have these benefits:
  • 24/7 access
  • Fully furnished spaces with chairs and desks
  • Shared fax line
  • Staffed reception area
  • Bookable meeting room
  • Mail and courier handling
  • Kitchenette
  • Monthly networking events
The Hub\’s rates range from $250 to $350 per month, and that will give you access to a fully furnished work area and a dedicated and permanent desk. — 205 – 810 Quayside Dr New Westminster, BC V3M 6B9 The services and amenities of The Network Hub\’s New Westminster location are exactly the same as that of the Vancover location. The only difference is the price rates.
  • Mobile Pass — $100/month — 5 days per month; fully furnished workspace; use of business address
  • Entrepreneur Pass — $175/month — 12 days per month; fully furnished workspace; use of business address
  • Citizen Pass — $250/month — dedicated work space; mail and courier handling; use of business address

\"camaraderie5. Camaraderie Coworking Inc.

2241 Dundas St W, 3rd Floor Toronto, ON M6R 1X6 Website: People from different industries are welcome here, including PR specialists, developers, graphic designers, event planners, writers, business coaches, social media specialists, artists, financial advisors, and so on. All membership levels except drop-ins can take advantage of:
  • Office equipment (printer, scanner, shredder)
  • Boardroom (usage depends on availability)
  • Common area
  • Beverages and snacks
  • Coworking visa
  • Health and dental benefits eligible after 3 months
  • Eligible for partner discounts
  • mail handling
There is a variety of payment options:
  • Drop-ins — $25/day
  • Startup rooms — $600/month for one room
  • Full time permanent — $375/month
  • Full time workspace — $325/month
  • Part time workspace — $200/month, 10 days per month
*Drop-ins and tours must be scheduled. Unauthorized drop-ins aren\’t allowed.


\"conjunctured1. Conjunctured Coworking

1309 E. 7th St. Austin, TX 78702 Website: Conjunctured is a home that has been converted into a creative workspace for independent workers and entrepreneurs. Here, people are serious about working, and at the same time, the environment is fun with plenty of opportunities for networking. It\’s complete with:
  • Office equipment
  • Wireless Internet access
  • Espresso and coffee
  • Printer
  • Conference rooms
  • Mailing address
  • Office supplies
The rooms each have unique feel to them and members can choose a room that fits their taste and preferences. There are two types of membership you can join.
  • Basic membership — $25/month allows one coworking day pass or hourly rental of conference room. Day passes that go beyond the initial $25/per month will cost basic members $15 each. Basic members can also attend events that let you become part of the community.
  • Full-time membership — $275/month provides the same benefits as basic members except full-time members have 24/7 access and have their own keys. They can also host events for free and have 6 guest passes per month. Additional perks include being able to reserve the conference room and parts of the house, use the business mailing address for deliveries, and access to private lockers.

\"alley2. Alley NYC

500 7th Ave 17th Fl (between 38th St & 37th St) Manhattan, NY 10018 Neighborhood: Midtown West Website: Alley NYC has plans for everyone, from freelancers to companies working in teams; there are shared desks, private desks and private offices. It\’s quite large, with 16 thousand square feet of office space. Networking opportunities abound as every 3rd Wednesday of the month, there are events that showcase what members are working on. The facilities here include:
  • 17 closed offices
  • Over 100 shared desks
  • Monthly meetup to let members show their work
  • Conference rooms
  • Lounge
  • Kitchenette
  • Coffee and food
  • Yoga on Tuesdays
For $300 a month, you can experience being surrounded by awesome people and determined entrepreneurs, and experience great courses and fun parties.

\"kleverdog3. Kleverdog Coworking

418 Bamboo Lane, Suite A Los Angeles, CA 90012 Website: Los Angeles is brimming with coworking spaces, but many have higher price rates, with some charging up to $35 per day. Kleverdog charges $20 a day; it\’s conveniently located in the heart of Chinatown; and it hosts events that are great for networking. Kleverdog has received a lot of good reviews because it brings great bang for the buck. Some of the equipment/services here include a kitchenette, lockers, printer/copier, wireless Internet access, beverage, snacks, presentation equipment and a library. There are different pricing options and you can even rent office space for full time work.
  • Drop-ins — $20/day — 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday-Friday; flex desk
  • Flex 5 — $75 — 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday-Friday; 5 conference hours; 5 visits; flex desk
  • Flex 10 — $125 — 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday-Friday; 10 conference hours; 10 visits; flex desk
  • Full-time flex — $200/month — 24/7 access; flex desk; unlimited conference hours
  • Studio desk — $300/month — 24/7 access; permanent desk; unlimited conference hours
  • Mini-cube — $300/month — 24/7 access; permanent cube; unlimited conference hours
  • Uncube — $400/month — 24/7 access; large cube; unlimited conference hours
  • Office — $700/month — 24/7 access; 2-3 desks; unlimited conference hours

\"office4. Office Nomads

1617 Boylston Ave Seattle, WA 98122 Website: Office Nomads is fitted with all the essentials the freelancer, office worker and entrepreneur needs. Its community is made up of telecommuters, organizers, developers, students, planners, consultants, publishers, entrepreneurs and anyone else who believes in accomplishing more by working together. Also, dogs are allowed in the building, provided they\’re well-behaved. Some of the services and amenities here are:
  • Shared desks
  • Conference room (for members only)
  • Internet access
  • Printer
  • Coffee
  • Kitchenette
  • Mailing list
  • Community events
Just like other coworking spaces, Office Nomads offers pricing options for regular members and people who like to drop in a few times in a month. Advocate — $30/month — Once a month, you have access to office facilities and services during staffed hours (8:30 am-6:00 pm Monday-Friday) as welll as events. Additional drop-in days in the same month are at $20 per day. Part-time — $90 = 5 days/month | $180 = 10 days/month | $270 = 15 days/month — Additional days are offered at $20 per day. Resident — $495 and deposit — You have 24/7 access, which means you can come and go anytime of the day or night, and have your own dedicated desk. Residents can also register their business at Office Nomads\’ mailing address so you can receive mail here. You also have 5 guest passes per month.

\"the5. The Coop

230 W Superior, 2F Chicago, IL 60654 Website: Chicago has a growing number of coworking spaces. The Coop offers shared workspaces for people from all walks of life, including web developers, designers, engineers, journalists, writers, entrepreneurs and students. All member levels can use the wireless Internet access, kitchen and office equipment, although there are different payment levels and you have to be a regular member to use all of the amenities.
  • Monthly member — $350 — 27/7 access all year round; your own keys; permanent desk
  • Flex cards — $90 for 5 visits; $180 for 10 visits; $350 for 20 visits — 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. access, Monday – Friday; flexible options; card has no expiration
  • Daily plan — $20 — 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. access, Monday-Friday
Of course, we can\’t cover all the coworking spaces across Canada and the U.S. Tell us about other coworking places you know of in the comments section below.

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