Networking Through Hot Desking in Coworking Spaces

by | Mar 6, 2024 | Coworking Space, Coworking Space, Entrepreneurship, Flexible Working, Remote Work, Workspace Culture | 0 comments

I fell in love with coworking spaces pretty much right away. I saw it as just a flexible way to escape the isolation of working from home (which I’m still terrible at). Little did I know, it would open up a world of networking opportunities I hadn’t anticipated.

Sharing a workspace with a rotating cast of professionals from diverse industries, I quickly learned to turn chance encounters into purposeful serendipity. Hot desking was a huge piece of that puzzle.

Understanding the Networking Potential of Hot Desking

Sitting in the common areas of the first coworking spaces I visited threw me into a melting pot of talents and perspectives. 

Unlike the static environment of a traditional office, where you see the same faces day in and day out in the same spots, one of the biggest advantages of hot desking in a coworking space meant that no two days were the same. Each day offered new conversations, new ideas, and new opportunities for collaboration.

The trick was to see these casual, often serendipitous interactions not just as pleasant diversions, but as potential doors to new projects, insights, and partnerships.

Strategies for Initiating Conversations

Openness to Engagement: I made my first coworking friend simply by choosing a seat at a communal table instead of tucking myself away in a corner. Something as simple as a smile or an open posture can invite others to strike up a conversation. I found that being approachable was half the battle in turning a shared workspace into a networking goldmine.

Ice Breakers: You’d be surprised how effective a simple comment on the coffee quality or a question about someone’s unique laptop sticker can be as a conversation starter. These small observations opened the door to discussions about our work, our goals, and how we might help each other. It’s about finding common ground in the little things.

Active Listening: Once the conversation starts, listening becomes your most powerful tool. I’ve discovered opportunities for collaboration and new projects simply by showing genuine interest in others’ work and challenges. Networking, I’ve learned, is as much about understanding the person you’re talking to as it is about conveying your own value.

Keep in mind, sometimes all it takes is going up to someone and saying hello. A fellow coworking member and I would walk around the space and ask if anyone wanted to walk to a nearby restaurant and get lunch with us. I still have friends from those lunches to this day.

Building Relationships in Shared Spaces

So many coworking spaces have put a larger emphasis on office rentals, so it might be hard to always meet everyone if they stay in their office all day. In my opinion, why pay the cost of a dedicated desk or office if you aren’t going to utilize the biggest advantage of all: networking. Regardless of your specific membership, make a point to work in the common areas every now and then so you can meet new people!

Leveraging Common Areas: The kitchen, the lounge, even the printer area became my networking hubs. I started conversations while waiting for my coffee to brew or during a quick lunch at the shared dining area. These spaces, designed to be communal, offered a relaxed backdrop for getting to know my coworking neighbors.

Participating in Events: Coworking spaces are bustling with events, and I made it a point to attend as many as I could. From workshops to social mixers, these gatherings provided a structured environment for networking, making it easier to connect on a professional level in a setting that was both fun and conducive to conversation.

Creating Value for Others: One of the most rewarding aspects of networking in a coworking space has been the chance to be of service to others. Whether offering a piece of advice, sharing a contact, or simply lending an ear to a project pitch, I found that helping others not only enriched my connections but also made me a go-to person in the community.

Utilizing Digital Tools for Networking

In today’s connected “WFA world”, the networking doesn’t stop at the physical confines of the coworking space. I quickly learned to leverage digital tools to keep the conversation going. Joining the coworking space’s online community was a game-changer for me. It allowed me to reconnect with people I met briefly and join discussions that were happening online.

LinkedIn Connections: After a promising chat, I make it a point to connect on LinkedIn, sending a personalized note that mentions our meeting at the coworking space. This small gesture has opened doors to collaborations and opportunities I would have otherwise missed.

Follow-Up Strategies: The magic, however, is in the follow-up. I found that a simple email or message saying, “Great talking with you about X, let’s explore this further,” can turn a casual conversation into a professional opportunity. It’s about showing genuine interest and taking the initiative to move the relationship forward.

Networking Etiquette in Coworking Spaces

One of the first lessons I absorbed was the importance of respecting boundaries. Remember, not everyone is in the mood for networking all the time. After all, we’re there to work first and foremost. 

Additionally, authenticity has been my guiding principle. People have a keen sense for insincerity, and nothing undermines potential connections faster than the impression you’re engaging only for personal gain. Instead, I’ve focused on fostering genuine relationships, sharing insights, and offering help without an immediate expectation of reciprocity. This approach not only feels more fulfilling but also cultivates a network of colleagues who value and trust each other.

Discussing business, especially when sensitive information is involved, requires tact. The open nature of coworking spaces means conversations can easily be overheard. Learn to judge the right moment for discussing certain topics. This could mean opting for a private meeting room or suggesting a walk to a nearby café for conversations that need confidentiality.

Conclusion

My journey through hot desking in coworking spaces has been more than just about finding a place to work; it’s been a rich history of connections, learning, and unexpected opportunities. The key takeaway? Be open, be genuine, and be proactive. 

Networking in these spaces is as much about what you can offer as it is about what you can gain. And sometimes, the most meaningful professional relationships start with a simple hello over a cup of coffee.

BIO: Jared Carrizales is an owner, blogger, and speaker for Wherever I May Work, a remote working lifestyle website. He has a background in digital marketing and has been working remotely for almost 15 years.

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