Coworking is a proven way to improve productivity, but it also opens your world to huge opportunities in terms of networking. Most people have the tendency to build 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 by a network of people that’s limited to their profession.
While this is beneficial for your current career, having a broader network is the best step to take when it comes to ideal networking. Fortunately, coworking allows you to broaden your narrow network, giving you the opportunity to meet competitors, collaborators, business partners, and even prospective employees.
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?” said Dan Benson, HR manager at Aussie Writings.
Without a doubt, Benson has underlined the greatest disadvantage of having a narrow network. In addition, people who are not open to diverse points of view, perspectives, and industries fail to develop culturally..
Fortunately, you can meet and connect to people outside of your industry at your coworking space. Here’s how.
1. Utilize Existing Connections
You’ve already worked on growing your network for years and have an inventory of five, 10, or maybe even 20 people that you spend most of your time with. This is your inner circle.
Now, think of the other people who are in your outer circle. You’ve surely gathered a network of people you’ve met briefly, whether at school, meetings, or conferences.
In most cases, 80% of the people in your network will be from the same line of work as you. If this is the case, it’s time to identify those remaining 20% and start working on building out your existing network. Reach out to people who you don’t usually associate with, and make your connection with them stronger.
This will probably lead to meeting new people through your existing connections, widening your network after a certain period of time.
How can you do this? The answer is simple – just strike up a conversation. Start chatting with people you meet during the day, or make yourself available to interesting conversations during breaks in the communal area of your coworking space.
2. Take Matters into Your Own Hands
You cannot expect widen your network by waiting for other people to come to you. Coworking requires activities and inventive ideas, so use your imagination to also achieve your networking goals.
There are many ways to use coworking for networking. Sign up for coworking space events and chat to the attendees. If there are none, host an event that gathers people of related yet different industries. Offer skill trades with people, where you swap experiences to assist each other.
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 only hang out with people from your same industry or profession, but this does not mean that they do the same. More importantly, they probably work and communicate with plenty of other people that you don’t know.
Therefore, it is time to diversify your network by asking for referrals from others.
If you are struggling to make new connections, ask your friends for recommendations. People in your network will recommend other people they believe you should meet and can 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 straightaway, so it’s important to give it time.
Since the main reason you’re building your network is to create more opportunities for yourself, you need to stop looking for immediate returns. When it comes to networking, we all have to accept that this is the long game.
This means it may be time for a bit of a change. Expose yourself to things other people like, expand your thinking, and go to places where people outside of your industry like to hang out.
Life is easy when you are connected to like-minded people. But expanding your network to include people outside of your industry will allow you to gain access to more career opportunities and, inevitably, new insights.