It’s Time to Bring Coworking Communities Online! (Part 2)
In Part 1, we discussed the role of communities in coworking spaces. It is increasingly important to improve the coworking community, and online tools can be a powerful way to do so. We also asked the question, “How can you participate in a community and join groups, when you are often on the road?”, “What do you do when you miss out on the daily interaction opportunities with other members?” In general terms, how can you be part of the community and stay connected with other members, while you’re away? Let’s dive in straight away.
Events and Groups
Every event — not only those hosted by the coworking space, but also by its members, should be promoted in the most effective and efficient way possible. They should of course be advertised on notice boards, but should also be communicated online.
As an event host, promoting your events online boosts your reach and makes it easier to manage the event itself. Questions such as, “Can I invite some friends?” “Can I bring my children?” or “Where can I park the car?” can be answered just once online for all to see so others with the same question won’t have to ask you again! It’s also easier to share all information, pictures and videos with a larger audience.
As an event attendee, having events promoted online makes it easy to know who’s attending, get instant updates, share or view pictures and videos, and have your questions answered more quickly by someone in the community or the host.
“If you’re participating at an offline event, make the most of it by promoting your participation” –Elias Jabbe, Mention (2015).
That’s not all though! The main benefit of events is the opportunity for people to get together and interact. An additional benefit is what you get out of events: perhaps a new business connection, a new idea, a new discussion topic, or even a new friend. However, as mentioned earlier, you don’t always get the chance to attend events in person. Yet, you may wish to be able to enjoy the benefits.
This is where online tools play a role.
Discussions and ideas raised from events can be communicated online, especially beneficial for those who were unable to join in person. It is also beneficial as a follow-up for those who did attend the event. New connections are not limited to be made only in person; it is still possible to connect with others before and after each event through online means.
Groups are one way for all discussions and ideas that are brought up during social meetings and events to be continued online. You will have a set place with all ideas and discussions written down for future reference, and you can save time by not waiting for the day of the event to talk about your ideas with the community. Plus, as mentioned before, you don’t have to worry if you can’t make it to an event in person as you can still contribute to the group online.
Groups essentially foster stronger ties to coworkers with similar interests and ideas.
Imagine the conversations you have with other coworkers that you meet by the water-dispenser, in the cafeteria, or during a workshop. Now imagine these conversations taking place in an online group. More people can get in on the conversation and contribute their ideas. Discussions become more fruitful.
That being said, it should be emphasized that offline events and interaction opportunities are still the key to building tighter relationships. You can’t beat physical presence. However, online tools that support offline events, interactions and shared interests among members will have a strong and positive impact on relationships and the community.
The core essence of events and groups lies in the network of entrepreneurs, startups, and freelancers that participate.
Joining these communities gives you access to new ideas, partners, and potential clients. However, it is not easy to meet every member in a coworking space. This is especially true for coworking spaces with a large number of members. Some members may have less time to attend events or be more comfortable making contact online first. In cases like these, members can really benefit from being able to find each other, connect and communicate directly online.
Use online tools as a starting point for offline communication and as a way to stay connected after meeting. Members can also be part of the community without being physically present.
“Online and offline complement each other, and together they are more valuable.” — Alex Hillman, co-founder of IndyHall
Together in one place
Lastly, a major benefit of online tools is the ability to organize everything in one central place. A place specifically catered to community-based communication, where it is possible to promote and view events hosted by the coworking space or other members, participate in groups and discussions, and find and connect with other members. With everything on one single platform, managing online communities becomes easier and more effective.
“The community is much stronger when we bring online and offline communities together.” -Bisner
Originally published on Bisner: The Virtual Coworking Platform
Bisner helps coworking spaces manage and activate their community, promote their coworking space, and interact with their members. Coworking space members are also able to stay engaged with the community through the platform, even while they’re away from the space!
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