When you’re setting up a coworking space, it’s a common misconception that getting the ball rolling is the only hard part. Between agonizing over interior design, planning the setup, and scrounging together the cash to lease the space in the first place, it’s no surprise that many coworking spaces struggle to get off the ground.
But when you do succeed and you have a fantastic space ready to go, how do you find members?
Acquiring new members and satisfying current ones are some of the hardest parts of running a coworking space – if not the hardest.
While you’re trying to maintain a balanced culture in your community, you also feel the pressure to have a balanced checkbook.
So, what steps can you take to fill your coworking space with members who are not only going to positively contribute to your community, but also continue to contribute to your bottom line?
Below, we’ve put together a few tips for filling your coworking space without damaging its long-term viability.
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1) Be selective with membership
Cold hard fact: members make your space.
No matter how you market yourself, how you’ve designed your space, or how many perks your offer, your coworking space’s culture will be determined by the people in it.
Because of this, it’s important to remember that every new member who joins your space is going to affect your space’s vibe in a big way.
Interestingly, being “selective” can mean two very different things. On one hand, you can encourage diversity, as some resources suggest. Allowing members to mix with people from different industries can be a positive experience that they couldn’t get elsewhere that could benefit individuals by challenging them to look at their business in a new way.
Alternatively, other resources suggest that you focus on one particular industry, in order to make sure that you attract like-minded members who understand and have experienced similar business challenges.
In the end, your decision should depend on the type of culture you’re trying to build. Are you looking for a collaborative space where individuals bring their diverse business backgrounds to share and learn from one another? Or are you looking for a collaborative space where individuals with similar business backgrounds use their industry expertise to propel ideas and solutions forward?
Just remember that while your ideal culture starts as just that – and ideal. In order to achieve this, you need to build a community made up of members who can positively contribute to that ideal.
Interviews, membership applications, and required tours are just some of the ways coworking spaces today review if an individual will be a good, supportive fit for a community.
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2) Keep an eye on how people use the space
Keeping your finger on the pulse of your community and space is key to understanding how you’re doing.
While you can opt for more traditional insight-gathering strategies like sending out a survey to your members or having one-on-one conversations to judge satisfaction with your space and the community, sometimes just sitting back and observing might prove to be the most perceptive.
Spend some time making a point to keep your eyes and ears open to what’s happening throughout your space. At what times do people get up and talk to others? How many groups of friends or colleagues are there? Does anyone actually use the new coffee machine you installed?
By observing and taking notes on how people use your space, you can make more intelligent decisions when pitching your space to prospective members. Paint them a specific picture of what to expect from your coworking space’s work environment. The better you know your own strengths, the better you can convince the best-fit members to join.
3) Post ads on targeted platforms
Word of mouth is powerful, but in many cases it won’t be enough to get you off the ground when you’re looking to quickly fill some much-needed memberships.
There are many different routes you can take when trying to advertise your coworking space. Some experts suggest going the old-fashioned route and listing ads on Craigslist.
Targeted paid Facebook ads, paid email blasts, and banner ads on local websites are some other strategies you can consider taking on to fill seats in your space. Platforms meant specifically for offices and coworking spaces like Share Your Office, Liquidspace, and ShareDesk are also valid options.
Keep in mind that you should always consider the ideal member you’re trying to attract when planning any type of advertisement. The goal is to intersect with the member somewhere they visit regularly so it feels organic, but also fits their interests.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of tips on how to fill a shared workspace. One of the best pieces of advice we’ve heard – it takes time, there will be some failures, but if your community is authentic, you will succeed.
But, there’s no cheating through it. If you’re diligent with growing your community and optimizing your space based on what members want, you’ll find that filling your space feels easier and easier.
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