Coworking is a proven way to improve the productivity, but it also opens your world to huge opportunities in terms of networking. Most people have the tendency of building a network through proximity – they connect with people in their own office, and perhaps some other experts in the industry over a certain period of time. As a result, they end up surrounded with a network limited to their profession only.
While this is beneficial for the career options at the moment, having a broader network is the true right step to take when it comes to networking. Fortunately, coworking allows you to broaden your narrow network, giving you the opportunity to meet competitors, collaborators, business partners, other prospective employees, and whatnot.
Knowing this, it is time that you use coworking as a strategy for widening your current network. ‘Having a broader network is the smartest thing you can do. Imagine there is a layoff at your current firm and you are facing a career change. If your coworkers are the only people you know and communicate with, who will you turn to for assistance outside of this company or industry?’ – says Dan Benson, an HR manager at Aussie Writings.
Without doubt, Dan has pointed out to the biggest disadvantage of having a narrow network. In addition to this, people who are not open to diverse points of view, perspectives and industries, fail to develop culturally and bring something new to their everyday thinking.
Still, it certainly isn’t easy to meet and connect to people out of your by using coworking:
1. Use the Existing Connections
You already worked on your network for years, and have some inventory of 5, 10, maybe even 20 people you spend most of your time with. This is your inner network circle and at the same time, the people you can find easiest.
Now think of those in the outer circle. You surely have gathered a network of coworkers, people you met at school, meetings, some conferences, and wherever else you shared a profession with someone else.
In most cases, 80% of the people in one person’s network are in the same line as him or her. If this is your case, too, it is time to identify those remaining 20% and start working on your existing network. Reach out to the people you don’t usually associate much with, and make your connection with them stronger.
This will probably lead to meeting new people through your existing connections, and widen your network after a certain period of time.
How can you do this?
The answer is very simple – just talk. Start chatting with people you meet during your day, or make yourself available to interesting conversation during the breaks in the communal area.
2. Take Matters into Your Own Hands
You cannot expect to decide ‘I want to widen my network’, and have people come to you to build new relationships. Coworking requires activities and inventive ideas, so use your imagination to achieve your goals.
There are many ways to use coworking for networking. Sign up to existing events and chat to the attendees. If there are none, host an event that gathers people of related, yet different industries to meet new people. Offer trades with people where you will swap experiences and skills to assist each others.
Once you start doing this, you will learn that there are many people interested in widening their own network.
3. Ask for Recommendations
You may hang out with people from the same industry and profession only, but this does not mean that they do the same. Even if they do, they still have that small number of people from another industry. More importantly, they probably work and communicate with other people than you.
Therefore, it is time to diversify your network with the one of others.
If you are struggling with making new connections, ask your friends for recommendations. People in your network will recommend other people they believe you should meet, and schedule a meeting to get you acquainted.
4. Be Persistent
Some people fail to widen their network because they expect immediate returns. People will not trust you from the first time they meet you, or see a connection at first sight.
Since the main reason to build your network is to open more opportunities and build yourself as a person, you need to stop looking for immediate returns. Make connections like you did so far – with persistence, patience and time. When it comes to networking, we all have to accept that this is the long game.
This means that it is time for a bit of a change. In addition to planning to increase your professional network, do something to make this happen. Expose yourself to things other people like, expand your thinking, and go to places where people outside your industry like to hang.
Life is very easy when you are connected with people similar to you. Either this is related to your views of the world, or you share a common passion for the same profession. Still, expanding your effort to widen your network helps gain access to more career opportunities and inevitably, new insights.