Coworking spaces are hotbeds of innovation, growth, and creativity. Although these spaces are populated by companies and independent entrepreneurs working on different projects, members of coworking spaces can work together to create a better professional environment by getting to know their neighbors. Communication skills are important in coworking spaces regardless of whether you’re working alongside a community of full-time colleagues or sharing space with individual remote workers. By putting yourself out there and engaging with the people around you, you can develop your communication skills while establishing friendships, professional relationships, and maybe even a few business partnerships.
1. Socialize outside of business hours
Socializing with your coworking neighbors should not be limited to nodding as you pass each other at the coffee machine. Many coworking spaces offer community events that give their members an opportunity to socialize with each other outside of business hours. When you connect with people outside of a business context, you have the opportunity to get to know them on a deeper personal level and can ask them about their skills and hobbies. This can pave the way for cross-collaboration between teams and will simply create a more pleasant and convivial environment.
2. Introvert vs. extrovert
Generally speaking, remote workers maintain either an introverted or extroverted disposition while at work. While extroverts may pick up a conversation with nearly anyone around, introverts tend to be more discerning when talking to people who are not in their usual circle. For introverted individuals, starting a conversation with someone — especially a stranger — can be a daunting task.
In this situation, a good approach would be to start a conversation that is not related to work, such as an upcoming vacation plan or a recent movie you watched. The idea is to break the ice with the other person and create an opportunity for further interaction later. If you’re extremely shy and don’t know how to kick off conversations, you might want to consider attending a negotiation training that includes lessons on social skills.
3. Be brief and focused
If you attend a large group events with lots of other people, it’s a good idea to keep your conversation brief and focused. This way, attendees can choose to mingle with other people if they would like, and you won’t feel bogged down by engaging in a long conversation if you aren’t connecting right away. If you have difficulty navigating group conversations, a number of coworking spaces offer workshops for general business skills where you may be able to learn valuable techniques for communicating with new people.
4. Don’t overdo the drinks
In many countries, outside events will be complemented with free alcoholic beverages. In this type of environment, it’s important to remain composed and professional when by limiting the amount of drinks you have to just a few. Remember: too many drinks can potentially impact your credibility. After all, you wouldn’t want an awkward picture all over the community’s page after the event!
5. Avoid bashing your clients, superiors, or employer
Undoubtedly, social events are meant to present an opportunity to unwind. However, that doesn’t mean that you should completely let go of your inhibitions and talk negatively about your clients, superiors, or employer. Remember that other people could overhear some or all your conversations, and distorted versions of your conversation may reach those who matter to you and your career. Always be careful about what you say and avoid mentioning names, particularly in a negative context.
6. Don’t skip the outings
As we shared earlier, social skills are important to improving your negotiation skills. Some people find every excuse available to skip community or company outings. This attitude can adversely impact your negotiation skills since you will fall short of meeting and networking with other members in your space. If none of the events appeal to you, put yourself out there and try one anyway. You’re bound to meet someone who shares the same sentiments as you, and this can provide a point of connection for the two of you to chat about.
7. Taking photos of your workspace
Taking photos around your coworking space can be a great way to boost your socializing efforts. You can share these pictures with people you know or even those whom you may have just met, paving the way to forming a friendship. Asking someone to take a photo of you at your workspace or offering to share the photos you’ve taken with the space’s manager are two good ways to strike up easy conversations.
8. Socializing is built into coworking culture
Helping other entrepreneurs and remote workers is a norm built into the coworking culture. Most coworking spaces will be filled with personable coworkers who have a diverse skill-sets. This gives you the opportunity to find solutions, meet potential collaborators, and ask for expert advice—perhaps without even moving from your desk. Socializing is significantly more comfortable and convenient in coworking spaces compared to traditional offices. The fact that coworking spaces work on a membership basis means the individuals working there are usually independent workers or part of very small groups. Each individual values their autonomy and at the same time enjoys a certain form of the structure when it comes to their professional lives. This means they will most likely be willing to chat with you, which could lead to a new friendship, a referral, or even a business partnership.
Conversation skills are important for career development, and being part of a coworking space is a great way to develop them. If you still need help with enhancing your social skills, check out one of the many negotiation workshops or trainings available on the web!