Collaborations in Coworking
There’s lots of talk about coworking being good for your business as a result of being surrounded by like-minded individuals. One might assume that a certain level of competition might arise as a result of the close proximity to others in your field when working in a coworking space. Perhaps the occasional occurrence of client poaching, or monopolizing job prospects, or even stealing employees might occur. What we’ve noticed at Workbar is that instead of issues arising from proximity to peers, we’ve seen examples of collaboration, mentorship and helpful connections made from being part of a supportive community.
Some of these connections occur through organized networking events or specific group email queries, but often this type of collaboration happens spontaneously, through daily interactions during coffee breaks, lunches or over a beer after work. We spoke to a few Workbarians and asked them to share their experiences with spontaneous collaboration while coworking.
Minh Nguyen is the development and communications coordinator for New Sector Alliance. He was searching for ways to refine the communications strategy for New Sector, with specific attention to thought leadership. Then he remembered a conversation he had with Larry Yu, a communications consultant and CEO of Meritage Media, and decided to ask him for advice.
“I knew that Larry Yu was a communications consultant, but wasn’t sure what his expertise was. So I casually asked him what his professional focus was on, surely enough he said ‘thought leadership’.”
Minh, without realizing it, had found the exact person who could provide him with this very specific type of information he was looking for. The only step left was to see if he’d be willing to share his knowledge.
“Larry was kind enough to set aside an hour of his time to help me go through the process in which he helped his clients develop thought leadership, and he certainly gave me a nice birds-eye view of how to approach the process of developing thought leadership.”
Later in the week, Minh was struck with another problem and found the solution from another helpful member…
“I encountered a challenge with my database system, and turned to Conrad Chuang from the software management company Orchestra Networks. I found out that he actually specialized in enterprise data management, and helped me look at a problem I was having.”
One might be wary of giving away your trade secrets for free, but there are rewards to be gained from this. Sometimes giving advice on subjects you are knowledgeable about reminds you of how much you know and can stir your mind into learning more. Other times sharing ideas can help you flesh them out or discover details you may have missed. Also who knows, the fresh faced entrepreneur in front of you could be the next CEO of a successful business, who will remember the kindness you shared with them along the way. As long as you are willing to stay open to conversation and provide assistance to others when needed, you will benefit from what coworking has to offer.
Bartering is another great side effect of working with people in your field. Trading skills or equipment is a huge money saver and having a network of people to draw from in one community saves you the time of having to go searching for someone who is willing to trade with you. An example of one of our most proactive and helpful members is Adam Howitt of WalkJogRun. Adam is a constant source of assistance for members as well as the Workbar staff. As a result he has developed several great working relationships with other Workbar members, including Nick of Social Contests, another very engaged member of our community, who helped WalkJogRun launch a Facebook contest in exchange for some feedback on his evolving product and admin tools…
“SocialContests helped us grow our audience by 50% over a two month period to 15k Facebook fans. As a small team, it was great to work with Nick because he handled all the creative so our team could stay focused on the rest of our business. His guidance throughout the contest and delivery of a contest marketing plan made it simple to execute. We’re thrilled with the results.”
This example of helpful bartering is a direct result of the type of worker that coworking attracts; likeminded people who want to be a part of a thriving community and give back to it whenever possible. It’s impossible to have these types of spontaneous collaborations when you are tucked away in your living room or hidden in a single office space.
Minh puts it best here…
“There are resources around us that we can strategically leverage. As startups, entrepreneurs, and innovative companies, I think the energy that resides at Workbar is collaborative, powerful, and productive. People have many different skills and expertise here, it’s just a matter of knowing who to reach out to!”
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