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How to use co-working spaces to expand your professional network

The modern co-working space is tailor-made for expanding professional networks.

Think about it. A shared office space is filled with professionals on a mission; building a business or brand, disrupting an industry or making a name for themselves as a freelancer, meaning co-workers have a ready-made way to expand their network.

Suzi Dafnis, the CEO of HerBusiness, a “membership community that provides training, resources, mentoring and support for women who want to market and grow their business”, says there’s many contacts and alliances to be made in a co-working office space.

Dafnis says when you build relationships with your new network, you’re also tapping into their extended networks; extending your circle of friends, mentors, referrers, suppliers and more.

Building a new network can increase the growth and opportunities for any business, she says. “But beware! Make the wrong moves and you could actually create more isolation than connection.”

Dafnis shares her five tips for getting known, liked and trusted in a co-working space.

Suzi Dafnis

Suzi Dafnis. Picture: Supplied

1. Build real relationships

Actively take the time to get to know other people, and this will help position yourself for building long-term and real relationships.

Co-workers should do their research before diving into conversations. Know enough about the other person and their business to be able to ask questions that show a genuine interest, she advises.

“Avoid big-noting your own success or going in for ‘the pitch’ too soon. First, build rapport.”

2. Show up

Do things to connect with potential collaborators and clients in the co-working space. “Showing up includes finding out all the opportunities that are available to you and seeing which of those you can get involved in,” she says.

Is there a regular meet-up or social event? Step away from the laptop and join in.

3. Nail the elevator pitch

Everyone needs an “elevator pitch” which succinctly explains their business and skills. And if it’s not succinct and memorable, people can quickly glaze over.

So, practice and perfect it, Dafnis says, to avoid getting tongue-tied.

“If you want to communicate your value and get past that ‘hit and miss’ scenario, where you lose connection with potential clients because they are left feeling unclear about what your value really is … practice your introduction or elevator pitch.”

It’s important to be able to clearly articulate your business vision. Picture: Getty

4. Be a valuable part of the community

In a co-working space, being a valuable part of the ecosystem is important, Dafnis says. Look at what you can give, rather than what you can get out of your connections.

“Is there a cool tool you’re using for marketing that could help another? Make a suggestion or share your results. Know someone that would be a great client for one of your co-tenants? Make an introduction or a referral. Did someone hit a milestone or have a record month? Cheer them on and offer congratulations.”

5. Be a leader

Taking a leadership position is a great way to build networks.

This role isn’t reserved for the person that earns the most, has the biggest team or the biggest business. This role belongs to anyone who is willing to show up and take the lead.

“A sure-fire way to demonstrate your leadership and also build your network is to volunteer to host a peer mastermind or co-mentoring session where you brainstorm ideas,” Dafnis says.

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