1. Socialize. Taking a few minutes to say good morning or grabbing a lunchtime sandwich with your coworkers can lead to an authentic relationship which is the best kind of networking. It’s also a natural place to ask someone “What do you do?” since you are obviously all at “work” together. At our coworking space, we host weekly in-house coffee socials and quarterly off-site events to give people a chance to get to know each other, which has led to the establishment of both personal and professional connections.
2. Pay attention. Definitely don’t go in selling yourself, but if someone a few seats down is looking for a graphic designer and you happen to be one, there’s a great connection. We’ve found an interesting pairing in our coworking space between writers and tech entrepreneurs that happened naturally because they were seated next to each other. (see my blog Working Alone Together-Why People Matter)
3. Share knowledge. Coworking fosters an atmosphere of openness. You don’t have to share your trade secrets, but sharing your knowledge can help a fellow coworker while building a relationship for future interactions. With a wide variety of expertise working under one roof, it’s highly likely that, over time, you will be on the receiving end of both useful knowledge and valuable referrals and connections.
4. Give it time. Coworking is not a networking group. Don’t treat it like one. The people who gain the most don’t go in with an aggressive attitude. Nobody likes to be sold to and people especially don’t want to be sold to at their office. Instead, cultivate authentic relationships with your coworkers, demonstrate your quality work ethic, and let the networking happen naturally.