Whether you love it or hate it, networking is an essential aspect of running your own successful business.
One benefit of working from a shared office space is the networking opportunities that arise from being in close proximity to so many other exciting budding businesses.
You’ve got to make an effort to ensure you give the right first impression to your fellow tenants. After all, you never know who could one day become a client, or who might be able to introduce you to others who can help in your business. Of course, there’s also the opportunity to make lifelong friends.
Here are some shared office space networking ideas that won’t make you feel like you’re cornering your new office-mates and blurting out your full business pitch at them.
Have your elevator pitch ready to go
One of the first questions you’ll get asked when you move into a new shared office is, “so, what does your business do?” If you haven’t ironed out your elevator pitch yet, now’s the time to do it. Being able to give a succinct, easy to understand, and memorable description of yourself and what your business does will go a long way in helping spread the word about your company.
Make a point of introducing yourself to everyone you meet
Most introductions usually happen naturally while making a tea or coffee in the communal kitchen or lounge area. But don’t be afraid to stop by your neighbours’ desks or offices in your first couple of days to introduce yourself.
Being open and friendly isn’t just great manners – your fellow tenants are more likely to remember you as a genuinely nice person.
This will make you more memorable next time a friend of theirs may be looking for a particular service your business provides. Be sure to vocalise that you’re happy for them to pop over and tap you on the shoulder whenever they have a question as well.
Read more: 5 Tips for Speed Networking Like a Pro
Invest in some good business cards and ask about promotional opportunities within the space
These should clearly state what your business actually does so that even when you’re not at the office they’ll do the talking for you. You can go one step further and order stationery or notebooks with your company name printed on them to hand out to your office neighbours. It will act as a great reminder to them next time they’re thinking of who to collaborate with or ask for advice.
Take advantage of any special networking nights or events hosted by your shared office space
Many shared office spaces in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide, as well as other major cities, offer regular events for their tenants. Some of these are purely social events, designed to foster a friendly, warm and accepting vibe in the space. Others are more business focused, where you can learn a new skill or keep up with industry trends.
Keep an eye on the calendar of events provided by your space, and while it’s not necessary to attend every single one of them, be sure to attend regularly to show that you’re open to forging new connections with others.
Run free short workshops or events for your fellow tenants
Whether your shared office space runs events or not, why not host your own and invite your office neighbours along? A workshop doesn’t have to take hours and hours of your time to prepare for either.
If you run a creative agency, host a small workshop about the benefits of good design for business. If your company is more marketing focused, run a short class on getting started with social media growth hacking or blogging. You may even start a trend and encourage other businesses to share some of their useful knowledge with the rest of the tenants in the space.
Read more: What is Design Thinking
Maintain a (mostly) open-door policy
We get it – things get busy and sometimes you need to stick your headphones on and eliminate all potential for distractions to get more done. But constantly signalling that you don’t want to be talked to may send the wrong message, and may put people off from asking you questions or inviting you to be part of new projects or collaborations.
Ensure you have at least some open-door (or desk) time every week during which you’re sending a clear message that you’re happy to chat.
Try leaving your headphones off, or taking your laptop into the common area for any tasks that don’t require a huge amount of concentration.
Hub Australia knows what it takes to grow a small business, with six spaces now open around Australia and over 1500 members. Hub focusses on helping businesses grow, with great events, spaces, and connection opportunities every day.