Tip #3: Come out of your shell
Overcoming one's reservations is the biggest challenge for a lot coworkers, but a bit of self-confidence is essential if you want to be a part of the community. Don’t wait for someone to introduce themselves – be the one who starts the conversation. "To begin with, coworking is much like being a stranger at a party,” says James Rock from Moseley Exchange. “The trick is getting to know everyone quickly, so that you become part of the crowd rather than observing from the sidelines.”
But remember that it’s okay to start small. Coworking isn’t like speed-dating, and there’s plenty of time to meet everyone. It is important to try to be outgoing and make casual introductions when you can. “Try to talk to at least one person a day,” says Ian Elwick from The Werks. “Most of us are a little inhibited or too busy to do this, but believe me, it will always yield a result. Conversation builds up trust, and no-one ever works with someone or makes a recommendation unless they feel trust. Just try it and see.”
Looking for an icebreaker to get the conversation started? “Why not suggest the services of your coworkers to people outside of the space?” says Ecaroh from Office Factory. Helping people out is a great way to make contacts. A little bit of charity goes a long way in a coworking space, and you’ll find the favor is soon returned.
Mark Hooper from Indycube agrees. “The key thing is to get involved, and be generous with your time,” he said. “Some people treat coworking as nothing more than cheap office space, but these people get so much less than those who engage with fellow coworkers and give their time to others.”
The kitchen is an ideal place to make spontaneous contacts while you wait for the coffee machine. “Make a point of at least saying hello in the kitchen,” says Amy Hoover at Strongbox West. “I've watched so many great relationships develop at our coworking space – both professional and personal. Remember, you're with kindred souls when you're coworking and you can meet some really neat and talented people.”
The moral of the story?
The common theme found within all these tips is: real coworking takes a bit of motivation. It’s perfectly okay to use your space as nothing more than a shared office, but that wastes half of your money. Real value comes when you stop being a fly on the wall and start being an active member of the community. Talk to people, start new events, and be generous with your time.
We've also found a neat infographic about this topic, created by Betahaus.