How to Take Advantage of Your Community (In a good way)
Everyday I meet people who are trying to build their businesses — that’s my job. They come to our coworking space at TechArtista looking for that special…something. You know, that something that even they can’t quite put their finger on?
Many come in “just looking for an office space.” For those people, I give the tour and highlight all of the great things that are happening in our space and the incredible community we have.
Then, I see if they bite.
A good portion of people are hooked right off the bat. I can see the wheels start turning as they take in the possibilities, brainstorming ways to take advantage of our resources. The questions start flowing…
Future Member: “So I get 24/7 access to all of this?”
Future Member: “Wait, my membership includes access to legal advice, user experience workshops, a gym, beer tastings…?!”
Future Member: “You mean people actually collaborate here? And partner on new business ventures? And I can trade my web design skills for someone else’s photography skills?”
But there are also a good number of people whose eyes glaze over as I talk about our community. “That’s great, but I’m really just looking for a place to come and work from 9–5.” These people often don’t understand how having a diverse and supportive community can benefit their business and find it overwhelming to think about anything beyond the day-to-day survival of their company.
Obviously, here at TechArtista, our bread and butter is the former: the people who are often introverts in their natural state, but appreciate that it takes trying something new and getting out of their comfort zone to make their business grow.
But we also love the latter. We appreciate a challenge and are always happy to help people who haven't quite figured out what they need or what they're looking for.
Whether you are already on board for the challenge or still a little unsure about all the hype, here are some tips for how to best take advantage of your coworking community.
Stop making excuses. Give yourself permission to feel a bit of discomfort and go be social with strangers.
Introduce yourself to people. Say “Hi.” Ask what they do. Tell them what you do. If you are interested or have an idea for a project, bring it up! And don’t just talk to people in one sector of the startup world. Get to know everyone and see what’s being created around you.
One of the most unique and beneficial aspects of being in a coworking space is the ability to collaborate on projects and build something innovative and new. But that won’t happen if you don’t meet people and explore.
The Green Stuff
Don’t psych yourself out over the money. You are making an investment in your business, and if the community is thriving then it will be more than worth it. To those finance junkies out there, go ahead and add up the benefits and see for yourself. For the TechArtista community, the perks and freebies that are part of our memberships are substantial. If a member takes advantage of all of them, they’ve already saved more than they’ve paid in membership fees.
Most people who use coworking spaces have only begun to tap into the resources and opportunities available to them.
Gym access, workshops/seminars, conference room space, professional development events/guest speakers, interval training classes, yoga classes, chair massage, laundry, concerts, game nights, beer tastings, and an average of 6 events a month with free food and drinks. It adds up!
And if your budget really is so lean that you can’t afford the standard memberships, ask if the coworking space has any smaller plans that would at least give you access to some of the perks. For example, we have a $13/month plan for people who just want access to our events and community.
If you are benefiting from an environment, you should also be contributing to it.
A shocking number of people don’t recognize this to be true, but it is the only way communities can be sustainable. I went to a TreeHouse Network event and one of the speakers, Dan Schmidt, said he always has the goal in mind to leave a place better than he found it. This motto likely resonates strongly with anyone managing a space used by 100+ people…
In coworking spaces, we are paving the way for future generations to be able to work and innovate with less hair-pulling than we’ve had to deal with. So give back any way you can. Whether that means showing up at events to support your community, offering to host workshops to share your skills/knowledge with others, or just taking it upon yourself to clean the fridge every other week, try to do something to make your community better.
The Take Away
If you have an idea or business that you are wanting to grow, joining a coworking or startup community just might be the catalyst that pushes you to the next level. But don’t let all the hype cloud your sense of reality and obligation. Joining a space is not enough. If you are going to get results, you’ve got to work for it. Let yourself be vulnerable, meet new people, and ask questions.
And don't forget to have fun:)