Thriving In Smaller Markets
Once your coworking space is up and running, a great next step is to join a coworking association or network. Associations and networks bring like-minded professionals together within an industry, in this case, the coworking or flexible workspace industry.
Associations typically offer an educational component, which allows you to stay up to date on industry trends, news, policies, and more. There are articles, webinars, networking opportunities, and live events you can take advantage of to further educate yourself on operating a coworking space. As you learn from other industry professionals, you can adopt best practices and mirror areas of success while avoiding potential pitfalls.
Networks are a way to connect your coworking space to a larger group of similar spaces, giving your clients exposure to national or international coverage as their needs change. While your coworking center may serve one local market, partnering with a network allows you to refer members across the network, and in turn, receive referrals when users have a need in your market.
Joining is often low-cost or free and can provide a valuable return on investment for your business. As a member of an association, you can network with other coworking space operators, access tools and resources to further your knowledge, get discounts on coworking industry products and services, attend coworking conferences and webinars, and learn from others in your industry that share the same goal as you – to operate a great coworking space! As a member of a network, you’ll be part of something bigger. While you’re the local expert of your space and offer your clients unique amenities and a personal touch, imagine you’re also able to serve your client with a need in a market where you don’t have a center. If you’re part of a network, you can refer that client to another network member, providing added value for your clientele. Many networks will also refer business to you. When your space is listed on a network’s website, you increase your visibility and can get new business hand-delivered from the network’s existing clients who are using coworking spaces in other markets that are also part of the network.
One association available for coworking space is the Global Workspace Association (GWA). GWA is a connection-based resource for shared space operators, workplace strategists, real estate investors and service providers to stay connected, current and competitive. Annual memberships are under $300 and include access to a resource hub, networking opportunities, a member directory, chat forums, conference discounts, HR discounts, and valuable industry reporting metrics. Click here to inquire about membership.
The League of Extraordinary Coworking Spaces (LExC) offers a membership platform for coworking centers to join and be part of a growing community that meets global standards of excellence. In turn, LExC provides a hand-picked network of the best centers in the world to users of coworking space. To date, there are about 30 LExC members around the globe. You must apply to become a member, and membership is based on meeting criteria in the areas of member experience, space design, diversity, accessibility, sustainability, and more.Annual membership costs $1,000. You can learn more about membership here.
Preferred Office Network is the largest network of independently owned business and coworking centers in North America. Membership is free, and once your space is listed on the company’s website, you will receive leads as Preferred Office Network’s Fortune 1000 clients have needs in your market. Preferred will set up a tour of your space, and if the client opts to work from your location, Preferred handles all of the recurring billing and collections on behalf of its members. As part of a larger network, you can refer enterprise clients with needs in other markets to the 650+ business center and coworking locations across the country. To date, Preferred Office Network has 170 members. Click here for more information about membership.
Caroline Hecht – Preferred Office Network
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