Are you bored of working from home? Fed up with firing up your laptop in a busy coffee shop? But can’t afford an expensive office space to run your business? Co-working offers a middle ground – you can rent a professional shared work space on a flexible day-by-day basis.
You get to work with fellow freelancers where you can network, collaborate and grow your business. There aren’t any restrictive rental agreements – you just pay to use such spaces on a monthly or even daily basis.
Co-working is a great opportunity for the freelancing community. Some 59% of coworkers report increased incomes and 68% report an increase in contracts compared to previous years, research reveals.
If you want to capitalize on co-working, here are five ways to fully exploit all the opportunities it can bring to the freelancing community:
1. Find the Right Space
There are a huge mix of co-working spaces out there. A good starting point is to check out and compare the pricing, location and facilities on offer. From maker spaces with built-in workshops to more corporate environments offering mentorship and access to startup funding rounds, make sure you find one that’s a fit for you and your work.
Lucas Seyhun, co-founder at NYC-based The Farm Coworking, said: “A good way to do this is to look at the space’s events schedule – does it offer the sort of thing that would benefit you and your business? Also, book a visit and go armed with a million questions to ask the space’s managers – and don’t be afraid to ask its coworkers a few questions during a tour of the space – it’s important to gauge if you’d like to work with this community.”
2. Be a Networking Ninja
The variety of people using such spaces means that this community has a unique blend of skills that they can provide to other members. In other words, one of the biggest benefits co-working brings to you is it’s community – so make sure you use this valuable asset.
The most obvious step is to talk to your fellow coworkers about your work and theirs. Just introduce yourself and your business during your first few days.
To really boost your presence, go to some of the space’s events. Whether it’s a yoga class or a business masterclass, it doesn’t matter – use each one as an opportunity to get to know your fellow coworkers.
3. Embrace Collaboration
As you find out about others work, you could see if there’s potential for a work exchange. When I was starting out as a freelance writer, I got chatting to a marketing expert at a co-working space who helped me understand some basic social media tricks and how to better build SEO (Search Engine Optimization) into my articles.
It really helped me to build my audience and, in exchange, I edited a few of his blog posts and helped him with some basic copywriting tips and tricks.
Two years on, this collaboration is still ongoing. If you can forge a similar relationship, it’s mutually beneficial for both parties.
4. Plan an Event
A co-working space is a great place to hold an event. You have access to a ready-made audience with its coworking community and you can use the space’s team to help you plan and execute your event.
Lucas said: “Hosting an event is a pretty daunting experience, and we get that. We help our members at every stage with an event. Whether it’s finding local caterers or layout ideas for our 1,500 sq. ft loft event space – we know what works and can guide our members to create a great event.”
An event will help you to extend the reach of your work. Whether it’s a formal talk or a simple “lunch and learn” session, for example, it’s a platform to advertise your business and your work.
5. Use It To Expand
If used correctly, co-working can help you to grow your business and your network. Most spaces are also adaptable enough to grow with the needs of your business – you can hire extra desks or a dedicated office space, for example.
But, don’t forget that co-working is an incredibly fun and flexible way of working. If you want to keep your head down and plough through your work – you can. Either stay at home, or pop on a pair of noise-cancelling headphones. It doesn’t matter.
If you want to hold a networking session to get to know more of the community – chat to your space’s community manager and find out how to run a successful event.
That’s the beauty of co-working. It’s a highly flexible environment designed to meet the needs of your work. Whether you’re just there for the free coffee or an inroad into a new network of business opportunities – the choice is yours.