The way we build and nurture valuable connections is changing almost as rapidly as the office space landscape (just check out our previous post on navigating the 2024 commercial real estate landscape). Shared office spaces, coworking hubs and serviced offices have become bustling hives of activity, not just for work, but for forging connections that can propel your career forward.
However, navigating the dynamic social fabric of these shared spaces can feel daunting, particularly if you’re used to the familiarity of the same work colleagues day in day out, or you’ve primarily worked from home before dipping your toe into the world of coworking or serviced offices.
Fear not, intrepid networker! This comprehensive guide lays out a treasure trove of practical tips to help you thrive and build a diverse, fruitful network within your modern workplace environment.
Shared spaces will often offer a vibrant tapestry of professionals from diverse backgrounds and industries. This is fertile ground for building mutually beneficial relationships. Shed the solopreneur mindset and actively embrace the community. Attend networking events, participate in collaborative projects and strike up conversations in the shared kitchen or lounge area. Remember, genuine interest and a smile go a long way in breaking the ice.
If you’re unsure of the best networking event for your needs don’t be afraid to ask around others in a similar field to your own. Many coworking spaces will run their own events you can join as part of your membership, or why not take a look through our recommendations for the best professional networking groups of Brighton, Hove and Sussex?
Small talk? Powerful tool! Hone your conversational skills with conversation starters around shared experiences in the space, industry trends or even local coffee recommendations. Active listening and paying attention create deeper connections, making you memorable and leaving a positive impression.
The British School of Excellence recommend preparing ice-breakers in advance if these don’t come naturally to you, along with adopting a growth mindset to help you step out of your comfort zone.
Also don’t underestimate the power of eye contact and a firm handshake – body language speaks volumes!
Up-to-date LinkedIn profiles are your digital handshake. Showcase your expertise, past projects and current role alongside your contact information. LinkedIn provide advice on optimising your profile to showcase your personal brand and whilst you might think you don’t have a personal brand, the truth is we all do in 2024, whether you like it or not!
Be sure to also leverage social media platforms relevant to your industry to connect with potential clients, collaborators and mentors. Craft a concise elevator pitch that succinctly summarises your value proposition and leaves them wanting to know more.
Coffee breaks, lunch hours and even water cooler moments become fertile ground for forging connections. Don’t shy away from striking up conversations, asking thoughtful questions and exchanging business cards (yes the humble business card is still an invaluable networking tool in 2024).
Remember, you never know who you might meet and a seemingly inconsequential chat could lead to valuable connections, new skills or even your next career move.
Don’t just network with those in your immediate field. Branch out! Connect with individuals from diverse industries, backgrounds and experiences. The cross-pollination of ideas and perspectives can foster creativity, spark new opportunities and expand your network in unexpected ways.
Effective networking is more than just seeking out the movers and shakers to try and get yourself on their radar. All new contacts can become valuable professional connections contributing to a healthy diverse network, even if your first impressions might suggest they aren’t going to be a particularly relevant new relationship.
Networking is a two-way street. Offer help and share your knowledge with others in the space. Recommend resources, connect them with relevant contacts and congratulate them on their successes. By building genuine relationships based on mutual benefit, you cultivate a network that will support you on your professional journey.
Try to take an interest in every new connection you make, no matter how seemingly inconsequential it may be. Where’s the harm in firing off a quick LinkedIn message asking them how they’re getting on in their new job or that product launch went?
Networking events hosted by your shared space or by other networking groups you might be active within are golden opportunities to meet new people, connect with potential collaborators and learn from industry experts. Attend regularly, come prepared with your elevator pitch and actively participate in discussions. You might just find yourself connecting with the right person at the right time who can propel your career path forward.
These events are filled with potential connections and everyone is there for the same reasons. So get talking and introducing yourself, asking questions and taking an interest in your new connections.
Authenticity is key. Be yourself, showcase your passions and don’t be afraid to show your vulnerabilities. People connect with genuine individuals and positive energy attracts positive connections. Celebrate diversity, engage in respectful conversations and foster a supportive environment within the shared space.
There is no checklist to follow in order to “be yourself” so just try to ease yourself into it and see if you can make a lasting impression simply by not trying to be anyone you’re not!
Building a strong network is an ongoing process. Regularly connect with your contacts, offer updates on your projects and celebrate their achievements. Follow up on promising leads, attend industry events together and maintain open communication. Remember, lasting relationships are the backbone of a thriving network.
Many coworking spaces, as well as conferences and events, offer apps and online platforms to facilitate networking within the community. Take advantage of these tools to connect with like-minded individuals, organise events and share resources. Remember, technology can be a powerful ally in your networking journey.
So whether working in a London coworking hub or a serviced office in Brighton with communal facilities, you’ll find these spaces offer a unique, dynamic ecosystem for professionals to thrive and connect. By embracing the community, mastering the art of conversation and utilising these practical tips, you can transform your working environment into a launchpad for your professional success.