We’re sharing strategies from our extensive experience helping coworking and flexible workspaces of all sizes scale their operations.
Events are the cornerstone of flexible workspace community building. Events offer your members a reason to stay late at work, come in on weekends, and make new friendships that keep them coming back month after month, year after year.
Here’s a new way to think about events: Attracting new members.
How can you capitalize on the work you’re already doing to lead high-quality community events?
Identify what’s possible
If you regularly host events, you’ll probably have a great idea of where your team’s skills and passions correspond with your community’s needs, and what kinds of events bring the two together to create value for your members. Hosting events to drive new memberships is not such a different ballgame.
If the conversation is good, folks won’t want it to end! You’ve got to demonstrate not just that you have high-value events in your coworking space, but that you have the community around them to boot.
Some event formats lend themselves to facilitating connection, but this can also change from one community to another. Get your team in the room and create an “event audit” specific to your current membership or location. For now, leave content aside and just focus on the formal aspects: which moments—during and after—your events drive engagement amongst participants? This may be harder to gauge with online coworking events, so try asking some of your members directly.
Think about the activities and their durations, breakout-group sizes, extra materials, or start times that landed successfully and mark them down in one of two columns: “in-person” or “remote.” When you’re done, think about which coworking event formats have convincing counterparts in the adjacent column.
From there, synthesize a few formats that could work best—tied to your marketing goals—and keep them at hand as you plan with your team or reach out to the guests (or members) you invite to speak.
Gain insight from your current members
Take advantage of your greatest resource and ask your existing members what role events play in their relationship with your space, and if they formed a turning point in making a decision about taking out a membership.
You’ll likely begin hearing about content here, and may come away with tons of coworking event ideas based on the things your members know they loved already. This will let you know where your event strengths lie (if you don’t already).
Catering to startup founders? Perhaps your business-pitch breakfast events were the invaluable deal-breaker for some members. Others may have sought a reprieve from their high-pressure role, for which your regular workshops on stress management closed the deal. Align the content of your events with your community strengths to demonstrate the benefits of your space to visitors.
It’s also a good idea to find out from your members if there are parts of their coworking experience they value because they are closed to the public. Acquiring new members is costlier than retaining them, so be sure you won’t alienate members in your ambitious growth plans.
Monitor what works from the outset
There’s nothing wrong with “recycling” a previously held event that your members loved. In many ways, this will help you get to the starting block quicker by establishing the data points you will use to measure event success. You could take the harder path and start from zero, but it may not be the most efficient way to capture value for your space while still managing your team’s workload.
You and your team should debrief after every event with a standard response sheet: What worked? What didn’t work? What could have gone better? When did people drop out? Assigning numeric scores to the whole event, or parts of it, can help you compare them and select which to hold again in future.
Free online events that are open to the public—and feature your space
Events are your best way to organically reach beyond your closest circles. Finding a few interesting speakers, workshops, guests, they’ll all have the potential to reach beyond the usual suspects and engage new participants who may not know about your space. And rest assured, there are tons of ideas for coworking events out there to experiment with.
Integrate your space’s strengths into the event. If you’re hosting an event in real life, and at your space, it’s easy to make sure that your event is strategically arranged to show off subtle details, like a full community calendar and physical advantages (walk past the phone booths, meeting rooms, etc.) of the space. You can even have a sandwich board that you bring out for events that quickly captures some key selling points, like current partner perks or a reminder to register for upcoming events. These moments when your space “sells itself” are key.
For remote events, prepare a virtual background, slides, or banners that (very) quickly get your key selling points across. Announcements at the start of your event, just before you introduce a speaker, are another essential touchpoint. The things that your community cares about, when communicated and made visible, can help people feel that they would feel at home at your space. Don’t be afraid to make an announcement directly to members (say, a reminder about the resources available to them and another members-only event next week) and let non-members think about the benefits they’d gain from joining.
If a member is hosting the event, you have an awesome opportunity to narrate the journey they’ve taken within—and maybe because of—your coworking space.
Paid internal events shared publicly
One of the benefits of Cobot’s events feature is that it can create an inviting page for your events to be displayed, even for people who aren’t yet members. This can be used as a way to demonstrate your value to potential members who might not fully realize the value proposition of your workspace, especially in contrast to free public spaces.
Paid public events free for members
You’re probably used to thinking of revenue as coming from your members, because in most cases, that’s true. You may already have other sources, and if you don’t, it’s a good idea to start thinking about creating some, a strategy ImpactHUB Tokyo recently shared with us. You are a part of the community, and a way to give your members better value (and bring in some cash on the side) is to offer events that are free for members but paid for non-members. In some ways, this is the best of both worlds!
Another potential revenue stream could be opened up by developing premium content based on your events. With minimal editing, you can turn your recorded events into on-demand resources that will add a huge degree of value to both in-person and virtual memberships.
You may find it will always be more difficult for some of your members to attend events. Maybe their schedules are too slammed, the time of day isn’t quite right, or they’re simply shy. On-demand content can increase the value of your memberships and help folks feel like they’re not missing out, while also providing value (and receiving revenue) from someone who is still pondering a full membership.
If you and your communities skills are more geared toward the written word, premium newsletters may be more your style.
Now that you’re ready to take your events to the next level, where else can you look?
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25 Virtual Coworking Ideas for Workspace Communities - Cat Johnson
The value of events isn’t tied to your space. Here are some virtual events that will up your game and demonstrate that the real coworking value comes from the community, not the desk. (Though we’re looking forward to getting back to our desks soon!)
It’s not all about events, but Deskmag outlines creative ways to curate your community before you even open your doors using events.
Two Approaches to Community Building/Membership Sales - Coworking Insights
How do you go about growing your membership base? Sales or community?
If you aren’t already using Cobot as your coworking management software, give it a go! You’ll find that our features can help you run your coworking space more effectively and grow your community. Just sign up for a free trial or a live demo session. And if you have questions, our support team is all ears!