Coworking interaction

Hello, everyone!

I’m pretty new to coworking and would love all the advice I could get.

To give a little context I recently started in my coworking space as a community manager. Everything seems to go great with my members and their happiness, but there is one big problem. I have noticed that members interactions and participation with the environment is very little to none. Does anyone have advice on how to get people more involved in a way that doesn’t seem forced?

Hey Trisha!

It has a lot to do with how people join the community in the first place, and the existing cultural context.

If people join with a mindset of it being about renting workspace, then people will come in with those intentions.

If people join specifically because they intend to benefit from a community and programs that will help them grow their businesses and make friends, then they’ll come in expecting to talk to people–because it’s what they’re paying for.

The former scenario is a pretty commoditized thing that lots of people are rubber-stamping now. A nice looking space with desk and wifi isn’t particularly impressive and hard to differentiate these days.

The latter scenario is more fun for you and compelling for the prospective coworker. For this reason, I strongly advocate for creating a way to invite people to join your community through an intentional, interactive program.

In my old space, I was most effective doing this by running a thing called Cotivation, a collaborative motivation and goal-setting group.

I aimed it towards freelancers who needed to share some accountability to keep them focused, and it worked really well–the people who joined the community because of that program were far more likely to be social with each other and newcomers. Lots of other good community things spun off from that.

So my suggestion to you would be: come up with something along those lines.

Happy to chat with you off-list about helping you get a Cotivation or similar group going!

Tony

···

On Wed, Feb 22, 2017 at 12:23 AM, Trisha [email protected] wrote:

Hello, everyone!

I’m pretty new to coworking and would love all the advice I could get.

To give a little context I recently started in my coworking space as a community manager. Everything seems to go great with my members and their happiness, but there is one big problem. I have noticed that members interactions and participation with the environment is very little to none. Does anyone have advice on how to get people more involved in a way that doesn’t seem forced?

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


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How to value and nurture your local coworking community: https://www.google.be/amp/s/thenextweb.com/entrepreneur/2014/06/15/value-nurture-social-community/%3Famp%3D1

I’m home fighting off a bug today and was digging through some old threads here on the group, and found this one that I never got around to chiming in on…and I wish I had because this question shows up more and more in my channels, especially for community staff that have been hired and are essentially “inheriting” a challenge of turning a room full of still relatively disconnected people into a dynamic, interactive community.

Tony’s point about the early expectations are definitely of note - expectations are important no matter what stage you’re at.

There’s one fundamental that I think plays out across ALL community building exercises: create opportunities for people to talk and discover things about one another that they have in common. Psychologist Carl Rogers said “that which is most personal, is most universal.” In simple terms: get people in a place where they can share something personal about themselves and good things happen.

Here’s a couple of things we’ve suggested for people in your situation, and that we do ourselves when we’re looking for ways to rejuvenate our own community:

1 - Everybody has to eat. Depending on your community, breakfasts, lunches, and dinners might work better but finding a time when people were going to have a meal and inviting people to have that meal together.

During our member lunches, we often let people mingle and chat on their own for a little bit and then “warm up” the group by having everyone go around and say their name and something about themselves. We pick a prompt question like…“what’s something you recently started learning” or “what’s the best thing that happened to you in the last week” or “what’s your favorite spot in Philly that nobody seems to know about.” This gives everyone a chance to share something small and simple, learn what they have in common, and there are ALWAYS conversations that extend beyond the lunch.

You don’t even HAVE to provide lunch, just a time and a place for people to bring theirs often is enough to get started. Down the road you can get fancy and try pot luck sharing…but I say down the road because that’s much easier once people are already in the mind/mood for sharing.

Sharing a meal is probably the simplest to execute, lowest barrier to entry, beginner community building event. Don’t be afraid to personally invite people one-on-one. They might say “no” but that doesn’t mean “no, not ever” it usually means “not this time, I’m busy!” or “no, that doesn’t sound especially interesting to me” (which is a clue that you need to figure out what WOULD be interesting to them).

Personal invites are super important - you might be worried about bothering people, but the alternative perspective is people saying “I didn’t know that was happening, why didn’t you tell me!?” :slight_smile:

2 - Group Projects/Activities. This move is a bit more advanced than a community meal, but works VERY well when executed properly.

There’s sooooo many ways to do it, too. Here’s a couple that have worked well:

  • You could find a local charity that is having a volunteer day, and rally some members to participate in volunteering together.

  • There might be something in the space that needs improving, and your members very likely have ideas for how to make it better. DIY projects are awesome for fixing problems in coworking spaces partly because they can save money but more importantly because they give people a sense of pride and ownership once they’ve played an active roll in making the space.

  • Is there a band or show coming to town that people would want to go to together? Or the opening of a new park, or museum, or other activity? Don’t feel like everything needs to happen in the space. My favorite “hack” is to ask members what stuff they do for fun (movies, music, books, food, sports, etc) and then ask “is any of that more fun when you’re doing it with others?” and when the answer is yes, suggest that they organize a group to do that within the community.

Again the goal with ALL of these ideas is not to get 100% participation in any of them…but to get even a small core group of 5-10 people to come together in a way that you can make visible to the rest of the community…which starts the snowball rolling downhill.

**This last part is SUPER important: the key to success, especially with an otherwise “dormant” community is, to do it more than once. **

Lots of people try something once, maybe aren’t super impressed with the turnout (“it was just a couple of people!”), and decide not to ever do it again. Don’t act like it’s a failure, or else it will be one. In reality, if two people are there it’s a success.

Instead, follow through and next time you let people know there’s going to be a member lunch, talk about the great conversations you had last time to get people interested in the next one. Small successes add up to bigger successes over time, and in a community setting, growth really tends to pick up once you’ve created something contageous.

I really hope this helps lots of people. If you try any of these ideas (or modify them in some cool way) I’d love to hear about it!

-Alex

···

The #1 mistake in community building is doing it by yourself.

Better Coworkers: http://indyhall.org

Weekly Coworking Tips: http://coworkingweekly.com

My Audiobook: https://theindyhallway.com/ten

On Wed, Feb 22, 2017 at 2:23 AM, Trisha [email protected] wrote:

Hello, everyone!

I’m pretty new to coworking and would love all the advice I could get.

To give a little context I recently started in my coworking space as a community manager. Everything seems to go great with my members and their happiness, but there is one big problem. I have noticed that members interactions and participation with the environment is very little to none. Does anyone have advice on how to get people more involved in a way that doesn’t seem forced?

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups “Coworking” group.

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For more options, visit https://groups.google.com/d/optout.

Alex, these advices are all nice and cool if you as the manager/owner is a people person and the members are also. Any ideas for those who are not able to or don’t enjoy interacting much? This might sound inherantly wrong, “if you are so, why are you in coworking anyways?” might be a relevant question…but I hope among many coworkings there should also be at least a small market for the intraverts. Aren’t some people tired of (or don’t feel belonged) the playful, sympathic, party, summer camp atmosphere of the coworking? Doesn’t it seem sometimes unnatural, imposed and distracting? Lots of fun, many new connections, big big dreams and talks but at the end of day you go home with a smile on your face but a quilty feeling inside for not having achieved much in real work.

I think fun element is over emphasized at coworking. It was needed at the early days to popularize it but now I believe the concept is mature enough to do some real work. Coworking is perceived as desert nowadays… I would like to explore ideas to bring it to main dish status.

Caner

···

On Apr 14, 2017 01:52, “Alex Hillman” [email protected] wrote:

I’m home fighting off a bug today and was digging through some old threads here on the group, and found this one that I never got around to chiming in on…and I wish I had because this question shows up more and more in my channels, especially for community staff that have been hired and are essentially “inheriting” a challenge of turning a room full of still relatively disconnected people into a dynamic, interactive community.

Tony’s point about the early expectations are definitely of note - expectations are important no matter what stage you’re at.

There’s one fundamental that I think plays out across ALL community building exercises: create opportunities for people to talk and discover things about one another that they have in common. Psychologist Carl Rogers said “that which is most personal, is most universal.” In simple terms: get people in a place where they can share something personal about themselves and good things happen.

Here’s a couple of things we’ve suggested for people in your situation, and that we do ourselves when we’re looking for ways to rejuvenate our own community:

1 - Everybody has to eat. Depending on your community, breakfasts, lunches, and dinners might work better but finding a time when people were going to have a meal and inviting people to have that meal together.

During our member lunches, we often let people mingle and chat on their own for a little bit and then “warm up” the group by having everyone go around and say their name and something about themselves. We pick a prompt question like…“what’s something you recently started learning” or “what’s the best thing that happened to you in the last week” or “what’s your favorite spot in Philly that nobody seems to know about.” This gives everyone a chance to share something small and simple, learn what they have in common, and there are ALWAYS conversations that extend beyond the lunch.

You don’t even HAVE to provide lunch, just a time and a place for people to bring theirs often is enough to get started. Down the road you can get fancy and try pot luck sharing…but I say down the road because that’s much easier once people are already in the mind/mood for sharing.

Sharing a meal is probably the simplest to execute, lowest barrier to entry, beginner community building event. Don’t be afraid to personally invite people one-on-one. They might say “no” but that doesn’t mean “no, not ever” it usually means “not this time, I’m busy!” or “no, that doesn’t sound especially interesting to me” (which is a clue that you need to figure out what WOULD be interesting to them).

Personal invites are super important - you might be worried about bothering people, but the alternative perspective is people saying “I didn’t know that was happening, why didn’t you tell me!?” :slight_smile:

2 - Group Projects/Activities. This move is a bit more advanced than a community meal, but works VERY well when executed properly.

There’s sooooo many ways to do it, too. Here’s a couple that have worked well:

  • You could find a local charity that is having a volunteer day, and rally some members to participate in volunteering together.
  • There might be something in the space that needs improving, and your members very likely have ideas for how to make it better. DIY projects are awesome for fixing problems in coworking spaces partly because they can save money but more importantly because they give people a sense of pride and ownership once they’ve played an active roll in making the space.
  • Is there a band or show coming to town that people would want to go to together? Or the opening of a new park, or museum, or other activity? Don’t feel like everything needs to happen in the space. My favorite “hack” is to ask members what stuff they do for fun (movies, music, books, food, sports, etc) and then ask “is any of that more fun when you’re doing it with others?” and when the answer is yes, suggest that they organize a group to do that within the community.

Again the goal with ALL of these ideas is not to get 100% participation in any of them…but to get even a small core group of 5-10 people to come together in a way that you can make visible to the rest of the community…which starts the snowball rolling downhill.

**This last part is SUPER important: the key to success, especially with an otherwise “dormant” community is, to do it more than once. **

Lots of people try something once, maybe aren’t super impressed with the turnout (“it was just a couple of people!”), and decide not to ever do it again. Don’t act like it’s a failure, or else it will be one. In reality, if two people are there it’s a success.

Instead, follow through and next time you let people know there’s going to be a member lunch, talk about the great conversations you had last time to get people interested in the next one. Small successes add up to bigger successes over time, and in a community setting, growth really tends to pick up once you’ve created something contageous.

I really hope this helps lots of people. If you try any of these ideas (or modify them in some cool way) I’d love to hear about it!

-Alex

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups “Coworking” group.

To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to [email protected].

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The #1 mistake in community building is doing it by yourself.

Better Coworkers: http://indyhall.org

Weekly Coworking Tips: http://coworkingweekly.com

My Audiobook: https://theindyhallway.com/ten

On Wed, Feb 22, 2017 at 2:23 AM, Trisha [email protected] wrote:

Hello, everyone!

I’m pretty new to coworking and would love all the advice I could get.

To give a little context I recently started in my coworking space as a community manager. Everything seems to go great with my members and their happiness, but there is one big problem. I have noticed that members interactions and participation with the environment is very little to none. Does anyone have advice on how to get people more involved in a way that doesn’t seem forced?

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups “Coworking” group.

To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to [email protected].

For more options, visit https://groups.google.com/d/optout.

Great questions about planning for introverts. We’ve got tons of them. I’ll come back to that in a sec. Lots to cover here.

If you’re an owner/staff who doesn’t like talking to people or do it naturally, that doesn’t give you a pass for not doing it and then wondering why nobody interacts :wink: that was the original question, and one that I get a lot, so that’s what I answered here.

We were talking about this in my coworking Braintrust recently as one of our members specifically thinks of himself as an introvert and someone who doesn’t naturally walk up to people and spark conversations. The point that I was driving home for him was that he shouldn’t try to fake it…that’s way worse. If you’re happier interacting one-on-one than in small groups, use that as a strength! It only feels unnatural and imposed if a) you don’t genuinely want to do it yourself and b) if people don’t want it.

I think people assume that I’m some kind of raging extrovert and that I love everybody I meet. That’s just not true. At best I’m an ambivert, but more importantly I know my limits and how to work within them. I meet plenty of people who I know I don’t want to continue a conversation with. But I make it my job (because I’m a professional) to figure out if there’s a person or place where they can have the conversation they want.

Basically, i’m much more of a lurker/listener/pattern watcher than anything else…which matches most of the successful introverts I’ve met :slight_smile:

The one thing that I don’t think people play up enough is their curiosity. If you’re genuinely curious about people, introversion/extroversion start to matter a lot less and instead you can focus on what environments help you get, and stay, curious about the people you meet.

Now, back to people, introversion, and balancing work with play. Interaction isn’t a binary thing. It’s not all or nothing.

I think you’re imagining that we do this stuff all day every day. We don’t. It’s all in moderation. And people love it. When we stop doing it (as we did quite a bit last year while we were working hard on moving spaces), people miss it.

Introverts and inclusion is SUPER important when thinking about this stuff. One of my favorite things is hearing from our more introverted members that they loved being invited to an event where they could sit on the edge and listen to someone else who was more comfortable speaking. They love being surrounded by interesting people and conversations, even if they don’t “actively” participate.

And to your point about the emphasis on fun, I see a lot of spaces overprogramming. Every space and community has a different metabolism. But with each metabolism comes different results, as well.

" It was needed at the early days to popularize it but now I believe the concept is mature enough to do some real work. "

Remember, these people can be anywhere. They choose where they work.

We never emphasized fun to “sell” an idea. We wanted a place where we could be ourselves, and work the way we wanted to work. That includes fun but not in the contrived “mandatory fun” way that companies try to do. I agree with you, that’s played out.

And productivity is still a top-line value for us. Our members might appear more casual and playful than others, but make no mistake: these people work hard, and are excellent at what they do. I’ve never heard anyone actually in the room describe it as a party atmosphere. In fact, last Friday we had an open house where I was extremely worried that it had gotten a little but too rambunctious during the day and so far 100% of the feedback has been that many of our members had one of the most productive days they’d had in months because of the buzz/energy of the room…AND they were able to take a lunch break to hang out and meet some people.

At the end of the day, if it sounds like I’m dogmatic, it’s not. This is 100% about results, and what I’ve seen produce results more consistently than anything else. Our “fun” and interaction and relationships aren’t about goofing off. I mean, sometimes they are, but they ARE the main dish in that its these interactions that generate the stuff that people have flocked to coworking for:

  • the ability to turn to a person next to you and get help with a problem. that doesn’t work when conversations are abnormal.

  • people opening up and sharing their ideas for feedback, so they can make their ideas better and share them with the world. we’ve seen more businesses and products launch successfully from our community than any incubator in the city. nearly every single one is tied to a story where people met casually, over lunch or a totally non-professional shared interest.

  • a simple feeling of belonging to something and being understood. not everybody craves this in the same way, but this continues to be our biggest contributor to member success. simply knowing that they’re not the only one who works the way they do.

Basically, let’s be careful not to conflate “social” with “fun.” Knowing the people you spend your days with impacts everything you do for the better. Feeling trusted, and being able to extend trust, improves everything from productivity to creativity to mental health and well being.

**How you create those experiences is 100% up to you, and more importantly, what you know about your members. **It doesn’t make any sense to try to be something you aren’t…but at the same time, don’t be surprised when you don’t get the results you want. :slight_smile:

My examples are just that, examples. I picked a couple that are relatively easy to copy even if you’re not naturally outgoing. But you need to self-asses YOUR strengths and situation and play to them.

-Alex

···

On Thu, Apr 13, 2017 at 4:34 PM, Caner Onoglu [email protected] wrote:

Alex, these advices are all nice and cool if you as the manager/owner is a people person and the members are also. Any ideas for those who are not able to or don’t enjoy interacting much? This might sound inherantly wrong, “if you are so, why are you in coworking anyways?” might be a relevant question…but I hope among many coworkings there should also be at least a small market for the intraverts. Aren’t some people tired of (or don’t feel belonged) the playful, sympathic, party, summer camp atmosphere of the coworking? Doesn’t it seem sometimes unnatural, imposed and distracting? Lots of fun, many new connections, big big dreams and talks but at the end of day you go home with a smile on your face but a quilty feeling inside for not having achieved much in real work.

I think fun element is over emphasized at coworking. It was needed at the early days to popularize it but now I believe the concept is mature enough to do some real work. Coworking is perceived as desert nowadays… I would like to explore ideas to bring it to main dish status.

Caner

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups “Coworking” group.

To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to [email protected].

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The #1 mistake in community building is doing it by yourself.

Better Coworkers: http://indyhall.org

Weekly Coworking Tips: http://coworkingweekly.com

My Audiobook: https://theindyhallway.com/ten

On Apr 14, 2017 01:52, “Alex Hillman” dangerous[email protected] wrote:

I’m home fighting off a bug today and was digging through some old threads here on the group, and found this one that I never got around to chiming in on…and I wish I had because this question shows up more and more in my channels, especially for community staff that have been hired and are essentially “inheriting” a challenge of turning a room full of still relatively disconnected people into a dynamic, interactive community.

Tony’s point about the early expectations are definitely of note - expectations are important no matter what stage you’re at.

There’s one fundamental that I think plays out across ALL community building exercises: create opportunities for people to talk and discover things about one another that they have in common. Psychologist Carl Rogers said “that which is most personal, is most universal.” In simple terms: get people in a place where they can share something personal about themselves and good things happen.

Here’s a couple of things we’ve suggested for people in your situation, and that we do ourselves when we’re looking for ways to rejuvenate our own community:

1 - Everybody has to eat. Depending on your community, breakfasts, lunches, and dinners might work better but finding a time when people were going to have a meal and inviting people to have that meal together.

During our member lunches, we often let people mingle and chat on their own for a little bit and then “warm up” the group by having everyone go around and say their name and something about themselves. We pick a prompt question like…“what’s something you recently started learning” or “what’s the best thing that happened to you in the last week” or “what’s your favorite spot in Philly that nobody seems to know about.” This gives everyone a chance to share something small and simple, learn what they have in common, and there are ALWAYS conversations that extend beyond the lunch.

You don’t even HAVE to provide lunch, just a time and a place for people to bring theirs often is enough to get started. Down the road you can get fancy and try pot luck sharing…but I say down the road because that’s much easier once people are already in the mind/mood for sharing.

Sharing a meal is probably the simplest to execute, lowest barrier to entry, beginner community building event. Don’t be afraid to personally invite people one-on-one. They might say “no” but that doesn’t mean “no, not ever” it usually means “not this time, I’m busy!” or “no, that doesn’t sound especially interesting to me” (which is a clue that you need to figure out what WOULD be interesting to them).

Personal invites are super important - you might be worried about bothering people, but the alternative perspective is people saying “I didn’t know that was happening, why didn’t you tell me!?” :slight_smile:

2 - Group Projects/Activities. This move is a bit more advanced than a community meal, but works VERY well when executed properly.

There’s sooooo many ways to do it, too. Here’s a couple that have worked well:

  • You could find a local charity that is having a volunteer day, and rally some members to participate in volunteering together.
  • There might be something in the space that needs improving, and your members very likely have ideas for how to make it better. DIY projects are awesome for fixing problems in coworking spaces partly because they can save money but more importantly because they give people a sense of pride and ownership once they’ve played an active roll in making the space.
  • Is there a band or show coming to town that people would want to go to together? Or the opening of a new park, or museum, or other activity? Don’t feel like everything needs to happen in the space. My favorite “hack” is to ask members what stuff they do for fun (movies, music, books, food, sports, etc) and then ask “is any of that more fun when you’re doing it with others?” and when the answer is yes, suggest that they organize a group to do that within the community.

Again the goal with ALL of these ideas is not to get 100% participation in any of them…but to get even a small core group of 5-10 people to come together in a way that you can make visible to the rest of the community…which starts the snowball rolling downhill.

**This last part is SUPER important: the key to success, especially with an otherwise “dormant” community is, to do it more than once. **

Lots of people try something once, maybe aren’t super impressed with the turnout (“it was just a couple of people!”), and decide not to ever do it again. Don’t act like it’s a failure, or else it will be one. In reality, if two people are there it’s a success.

Instead, follow through and next time you let people know there’s going to be a member lunch, talk about the great conversations you had last time to get people interested in the next one. Small successes add up to bigger successes over time, and in a community setting, growth really tends to pick up once you’ve created something contageous.

I really hope this helps lots of people. If you try any of these ideas (or modify them in some cool way) I’d love to hear about it!

-Alex

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups “Coworking” group.

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The #1 mistake in community building is doing it by yourself.

Better Coworkers: http://indyhall.org

Weekly Coworking Tips: http://coworkingweekly.com

My Audiobook: https://theindyhallway.com/ten

On Wed, Feb 22, 2017 at 2:23 AM, Trisha [email protected] wrote:

Hello, everyone!

I’m pretty new to coworking and would love all the advice I could get.

To give a little context I recently started in my coworking space as a community manager. Everything seems to go great with my members and their happiness, but there is one big problem. I have noticed that members interactions and participation with the environment is very little to none. Does anyone have advice on how to get people more involved in a way that doesn’t seem forced?

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups “Coworking” group.

To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to [email protected].

For more options, visit https://groups.google.com/d/optout.

Food is so important. Everyone needs to eat. Our most successful and longest running event at Cohere is Donuts And …

I just did a video explaining how and why we do donuts. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t3ePxJqyE2s

Angel

···

On Friday, February 24, 2017 at 7:16:42 AM UTC-7, Trisha wrote:

Hello, everyone!

I’m pretty new to coworking and would love all the advice I could get.

To give a little context I recently started in my coworking space as a community manager. Everything seems to go great with my members and their happiness, but there is one big problem. I have noticed that members interactions and participation with the environment is very little to none. Does anyone have advice on how to get people more involved in a way that doesn’t seem forced?

Angel, this example (and this video) are f’ing awesome.

Yes, yes, yes. This is perfect.

-Alex

···

On Fri, Apr 14, 2017 at 5:37 PM, Angel Kwiatkowski [email protected] wrote:

Food is so important. Everyone needs to eat. Our most successful and longest running event at Cohere is Donuts And …

I just did a video explaining how and why we do donuts. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t3ePxJqyE2s

Angel

On Friday, February 24, 2017 at 7:16:42 AM UTC-7, Trisha wrote:

Hello, everyone!

I’m pretty new to coworking and would love all the advice I could get.

To give a little context I recently started in my coworking space as a community manager. Everything seems to go great with my members and their happiness, but there is one big problem. I have noticed that members interactions and participation with the environment is very little to none. Does anyone have advice on how to get people more involved in a way that doesn’t seem forced?

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups “Coworking” group.

To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to [email protected].

For more options, visit https://groups.google.com/d/optout.


The #1 mistake in community building is doing it by yourself.

Better Coworkers: http://indyhall.org

Weekly Coworking Tips: http://coworkingweekly.com

My Audiobook: https://theindyhallway.com/ten

Alex, thanks a lot. Some awareness fell into my lap (head) yesterday that it’s possible that us veterans forget the actual small steps that we need to teach people when it comes to putting on an event…things like: How do the donuts get to the coworking space? How to set up the room? What do you actually say? What else do we do to prepare the space or the members to have even a simple event???

Angel

···

On Friday, April 14, 2017 at 3:43:08 PM UTC-6, Alex Hillman wrote:

Angel, this example (and this video) are f’ing awesome.

Yes, yes, yes. This is perfect.

-Alex


The #1 mistake in community building is doing it by yourself.

Better Coworkers: http://indyhall.org

Weekly Coworking Tips: http://coworkingweekly.com

My Audiobook: https://theindyhallway.com/ten

On Fri, Apr 14, 2017 at 5:37 PM, Angel Kwiatkowski [email protected] wrote:

Food is so important. Everyone needs to eat. Our most successful and longest running event at Cohere is Donuts And …

I just did a video explaining how and why we do donuts. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t3ePxJqyE2s

Angel

On Friday, February 24, 2017 at 7:16:42 AM UTC-7, Trisha wrote:

Hello, everyone!

I’m pretty new to coworking and would love all the advice I could get.

To give a little context I recently started in my coworking space as a community manager. Everything seems to go great with my members and their happiness, but there is one big problem. I have noticed that members interactions and participation with the environment is very little to none. Does anyone have advice on how to get people more involved in a way that doesn’t seem forced?

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This is a neat conversation, thanks to everyone for writing in it!

As far as the introvert/extrovert goes, I'm definitely an extrovert, and most of our members are definitely introverts.

I would recommend the book Impro by Keith Johnstone, and even more: http://www.culturesync.net/toolbox/culturemeter-survey/ and the book by Dave Logan. If you have ways of doing that introvertedly (and there are many, from online surveys, to long-term commitments of members to be there a long time so people build relationships gradually, to going to lunch together, and so many things I will never think of - what are yours?), then I think it's awesome.

For events, I view it as:
- ask people in person, and if at least 3 members (who aren't staff) agree to definitely show up and very much want to, then it'll very likely be a success.
- bringing food potluck-style is an easy way for people to feel appreciated, altho I rarely say that explicitly.
- to share values and find common themes/interests between members as Alex Hillman mentioned, I open every weekly optional member meeting by starting, "What's your name and something you're passionate about, in 30 seconds or less?"

Not adding anything here but I can reiterate upon what’s already been said.

As Tony mentioned, and the hardest thing I’ve noticed is that unless you’re proactive, the values of the initial members and team will be perpetuated amongst those that subsequently join. It is simply adaptation to the norm, and is great if you start out with engagement, but if not change requires some drive and leadership, and will take time as the existing values must have the cost-benefits visibly improved in order to be adopted as a new norm. Non-participation has no cost and no benefits (except low-risk), versus participation which has an immediate cost (especially higher for introverts) with rather opaque benefits.

Yet when members see some others having engaging conversations, or enjoying food these intangible benefits will seep through and become more visible. Most humans don’t like to be left out :wink: These types of activities aren’t necessarily just ‘fun’ they also offer the opportunity to let the brain solve problems in downtime between tasks. I like to have an area/table where you can sit if you actually want to invite conversation as opposed to the quiet area to avoid it, but those in the quiet area do need to be encouraged to join it occasionally.

Alex hits it on the head, I considered myself an introvert and rarely start conversations with people off the cuff, yet they’re are surprised when I describe myself as such. Personally I found driving a community made me more open to participating myself. Some things are fairly easy, like organising brunch which I’m really into :joy: (lunch works similarly for weekday spaces) and being welcoming in a few words is not too hard. Though ideally introverts need an introduction to each other to get things moving but which requires a strong head for details about everyone.

Maybe others have some open-ended conversation tactics here, «hey Alice, I was just chatting to Bob here who’s into …, what do you think about …»??

Any regular informal interaction point will lead organically to other interactions and plans (maybe even «anyone for wild swimming next week?!»). I think a potential problem might arise if interactions/events are not clearly informal versus formal. A workspace is assumedly formal by default (well unless there’s free beer, foosball, and people larking around all the time) so even a lunch or any other gathering might be assumed to be so too, and an introverted newcomer may not participate unless the engagement cost is effectively zero i.e. they know they needn’t do anything and can simply tryout. Bringing your own lunch but joining the shared table falls into this category. Potluck or space-provided food might introduce hesitations such as «whose food is this, can I have some, should I bring my own? I don’t know so I’ll just skip it…» The rules of engagement need to be clear.

Some members may have no benefit in participating in either network/formal or social/informal style activities. The approach of an informal event that ‘sneaks in’ a more formal engagement is great (e.g. «tell us one thing…»), whereas if this is the stated objective to begin, the participation cost may be too high (e.g. a «show and tell evening») or the format irrelevant («oh but what would I talk about?») unless explicitly optional («share some tasty bites and listen to what your fellow members are up to; got something to talk about…just stand up!»).

Regardless the community leader does need to catalyse members, even if just «can I tempt you with a coffee and donut…over there…with the others». It’s a nominal cost, but demonstrably open to all with a no-commitment benefit, sure some may take the freebie and walk off, but eventually most will be dragged into conversation and participation :smiley:

More structured events depend entirely upon the makeup of your community. If there’s enough freelancers a show and ask/tell could work well. If you’re a short distance from homes you’ll be able to use evenings better. Introverts are more at home if there’s a prescribed format or if they can bring a friend… open days, public events.

I’m all for expanding the reach of communities and would go so far as to say bring a friend/family for after hours movie/docu nights or skill/knowledge sharing but you can’t so much foist this on the members, ideally such plans need to teased out, and support for it then offered so it actually happens. «Does anyone know of any good docus on release? … Shall we get everyone together one night, we’ve got a projector!» «Anyone have some tips for me about SEO? … That’s helpful, wanna share with the other members around the table sometime, we’ll do the coffee!»