Would you believe me if I said that casual chit-chat about your French bulldog could be more valuable for your business than 100 people liking your LinkedIn post about your latest certificate? No?
Think about it.
Networking has long been moving into the digital space (even more so in recent times), and while there is now a lot of business being done through LinkedIn and similar platforms, no one can deny that there is no true replacement for in-person relationship building. People are more likely to do business with someone with whom they have a personal connection, and building an authentic connection is much easier to achieve face-to-face than through a Linkedin in-mail.
A shared love of French bulldogs leading to a business deal? Empires have been built on less.
The problem many of us face, however, is finding networking opportunities, and this era of remote working and social distancing has definitively not made this any easier. Budding entrepreneur in Luxembourg on a solo-mission? Opportunity-hungry freelancer? Employee looking to expand your horizons? Simply a human wanting to meet other humans? Where do we go?
The answer: coworking spaces.
According to studies, since working in a coworking space, 86% of people reported gaining a larger business network, and 93% reported having an increased social network.
With so many diverse people from different backgrounds and career paths sharing a workspace, the opportunities to form new connections are endless. From designers to high-powered businesspeople, you could end up having life-changing or career-defining conversations with pretty much anyone!
That being said, barging into the nearest coworking space and rattling off your CV to anyone who will listen is probably not the best strategy… So, here are a few tips about how to network at a shared work space:
● DO initiate a friendly conversation in the coffee area or printing room, but keep it casual and polite. DON’T dive right in and interrogate the poor victim about their views on Trump, their salary or their feelings towards their mother-in law.
● DO sit in the open shared spaces where people are more open to interacting, but DON’T interfere with someone who is clearly trying to focus. If their eyes are on their screen and not on your face, they probably aren’t interested in small talk about the changing weather patterns at that particular moment.
● DO feel free to talk about your work, but make it a real, honest conversation with an actual human being - DON’T present a generic sales pitch! Allowing your passion for your business to filter through authentically in your interactions is more likely to give rise to relationships and recommendations than any sales tactics.
● DO offer what you’ve got to give. Doing a favour for a fellow coworker might earn you more than a few brownie points for being a nice person. Designing an invitation or giving advice on something you are an expert in gives you an opportunity to showcase your skills, and could earn you a recommendation to a potential client in the future. Also, next time they might even help you out, and you could get a mutually beneficial skills-trade going.
● DO find out if the workspace allows you to leave branded stationery for other workspacers to take or use for free. Everyone likes a good pen and needs a post-it now and then, and having your logo floating around could boost brand awareness.
● DO subscribe to the Deskover newsletter to find out when the coworking spaces in Luxembourg are having networking events. Whether it’s an informative seminar or a casual beer-tasting, the other attendees are also intentionally looking to network, so starting a conversation may feel less intimidating.
● DO notice new members, introduce yourself and, if necessary, help them find their feet. If someone opens the door to the fire escape or the storage cupboard, it’s a good guess that they are looking for the toilets, and would probably be grateful for a little guidance before walking into a meeting room...
● DON’T be that person who runs to the coffee area every time a particular person is going for a refill. They WILL notice.
● DO get in touch with Deskover if you would like to host a workshop or networking event at a work space in Luxembourg. Sharing some of your professional knowledge could attract like-minded professionals, potential clients, or simply interested people looking to expand their horizons, and is a great opportunity to promote your brand.
● DO actually do work at the workspace! If you want to demonstrate yourself as a serious, driven professional who would work hard on a new client’s account, prove it by working diligently on current clients’ accounts. If you are only seen bouncing between Facebook and the coffee area, people might have faith in your marvellous social skills, but doubt your dedication to actually getting a job done.
● Finally, DON’T try to strike up a conversation at the urinal or with the poor soul who is trying to have some peace in the toilet stall next to you. Enough said on this point…
Shared work spaces provide invaluable networking opportunities which could go a long way to boosting your social and business connections - provided that you do so respectfully and appropriately.
BOOK a spot at your local coworking space in Luxembourg today. Who knows, you might be one connection away from a business breakthrough!