How are you? Hope this finds you well.
I’ve actually been chewing on your situation since I first read it a few days ago.
Just because things have worked in the reverse of how it is suggested, I’m not certain there are hard and fast rules in this space, just things that work better than others. Given the opportunity you were given I may very well have jumped at the chance too. We’re building our community and as it grows I’m trying to figure out where we are going to plant these spaces and how that will work out. So I wouldn’t beat myself up too much if I were you.
Here are a few thoughts I came up with over the last few days, and many of them have already probably crossed your mind. But really its doing the same steps that you would to build any community. What I consider an advantage in your situation is that you have a space. In our situation, we are building the community and what the final space will look like is not readily apparent just yet. I think this could be an advantage to you in that your potential members will be able to see what they are getting, you’ll be able to offer free coworking days and stuf like that. Leverage the space to your advantage.
**1. Build a Facebook Page for your business. **
I saw you did that, just liked your page from Colorado! If I were you I would spend $100 on building an ad for facebook and promote the page. Get some likes and then use that as a point to start networking from. That will give you a pool to potentially pull from to start generating a buzz and potentially interest in joining your space.
2. Set up a Meetup group and join other meet up groups in the area
Set up your own to get the word out about your space to a different audience. While facebook is a powerful took to reach people, meetup has given us a separate avenue an a slightly quicker connection than facebook because on meet up the people will commit to meeting with you as you schedule things so its far easier to get connected face to face. Then host an event at your space. Give a short presentation on coworking and then let the people who have come mingle and meet one another. At the end of the day it is them you will want to have connect well, and then you give them a place to connect.
Also, if you join meet up groups you can network with other members of your community. Join Startup meetups, entrepreneur meetups, tech meetups, web development meetups. Any kind of meet up that may hold people who would potentially look to use your facility. Freelancers, entrepreneurs, techies, hackers, etc.
**3. Connect with other co-working spaces in your area. **
This is powerful because according to the deskmag study, spaces started in isolation tend to have a harder go of it. I think this is because sometimes the word about coworking has not reach the four corners of the earth, so in addition to building a community, you are also educating a community as well, and if you’ve ever seen Shark Tank, educating your customer base can be a challenge as well, but well worth it.
4. Set up a bi monthly series of classes
Connect with professionals in your area, investment bankers, venture capitalists, leadership coaches, marketing professionals, any one who would consult with a start up, growing or established business. Ask them to give a presentation in your space and then see if they can leverage their name and network to get people in the door.
I have a ton more thoughts but gotta get onto some other things. Feel free to reach out to me if you would like and we can discuss this more, but thought I would toss what I could at the wall and see if I could help you out. Most importantly, get creative and stick with it, you’ll figure it out.
I have a good friend who lives in Madison (yes 2 hours south of you it appears) But I would love to stop in and see your space next time I am in WI.