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Event ideas and strategies for your coworking community
Hey coworking friends! Bummed you missed last week's Coworking Convos? No worries — we've got the highlights to share so you can still soak up some of the community-building wisdom.
Ann, Tammira, Carlito and Tim brought the wisdom when it comes to events that engage members and support their spaces. Ann was all about starting that bonding during onboarding. Tammira emphasized the importance of focusing in your people and getting creative with partners. Wunderkind Carlito was preaching consistency, leveraging FOMO, and just going for it with new event concepts. And Tim broke down some systems thinking with his event formulas.
They all drove home that events have to tie back to your audience and goals. But there were so many gems I couldn't fit here — you really need to check the full replay when you can.
I'm already getting fomo about next month's Convos lineup. Here's hoping work doesn't get in the way again! Let's connect before so we can set a reminder to attend together. This is too good to miss twice!
Let’s start with Ann Long from Burbity Spaces:
- Start engaging members right from the beginning - during tours and onboarding - to make them feel connected to the community. This leads to better event engagement down the road.
- Get to know members when they join to understand their interests and find out if they are new to the area. People new to the area often want to quickly get plugged into the community.
- Have community leaders who connect members with each other at events. This makes people feel welcomed and like they belong.
- Build excitement by having staff hype up events ahead of time and continually engage members.
- Midday events over lunch work well, like "bring your own lunch" lunch and learns. Music trivia was a big hit.
- Scavenger hunts, food drives, toy drives, and chili cook-offs are other popular events.
- Do fun events for holidays like Easter egg hunts and Valentine's cards for members.
"It's so important to engage your community from the get go from the tour, starting at the tour, then into the onboarding appointment, and introducing and making them feel connected from the get go."
"If they don't feel connected from the get go, your engagements can not get as high as you want it to be."
"It is so important to make people feel like they belong there and that they're welcomed. That way they won't feel like a lost sheep."
Then Dr. Tammira Lucas from The Cube Cowork outlined how to create events for members and growing a coworking business focused on parent entrepreneurs, in particular black moms in Baltimore:
- Start by identifying your target customers and directly ask them what events and topics would be valuable. Don't assume you already know.\
- Host recurring events like "Growth Beyond Me" on niche topics to help members grow their businesses and careers. Collaborate with partners like universities and tech companies to draw bigger audiences.
- Have a diverse calendar with different types of events beyond just business topics, like fitness classes and mom meetups with childcare. Offer food and enticing calls to action to get people to return.
- Finding the right speakers and panelists is key. Ensure branding and experience is consistent across all partner events.
- Focus on your specific audience and community - don't try to be everything to everyone. For Cube Cowork, it's mom entrepreneurs and black women.
- Make sure to capture event attendees' contact info and follow up, since it takes multiple touchpoints before someone becomes a member.
Key thoughts from Dr. Lucas:
"First, find your potential customers and ask them, ‘What is it that you want? What is it that you need?’ Don't really assume you already know."
"Make sure that when you are hosting events, that there is always a call to action or something that's going to really entice people to come back."
"I can't stress it enough: knowing who you're trying to impact and also knowing what type of community you are trying to really strengthen."
And here’s a summary from Carlito Smith's sharing on creating events and engaging members at Hunt Street Station in Detroit:
- Initially tried implementing his own energetic ideas before taking time to understand members. Realized the importance of getting to know members first.
- Hosted consistent "Fireside Chats" for members to share stories and connect. This built relationships so he could later do bigger, fun events.
- Create a habit through repetition - it builds familiarity and comfort. Find a pace that works for members.
- Don't be afraid to "bug" people a bit. Create some FOMO by mentioning to members who else is interested. Flex on social media to showcase the fun others are having.
- Partner with interesting local people and businesses for event collaborations. Brings new people into the space and enriches the wider community.
- Design creative flyers and personally invite members to events. Even 20 minutes participation helps create content showing engagement.
- Offer the space for external events like Design Month to bring relevant free programming to members. Gets High Street Station involved in the local community.
Key thoughts from Carlito:
"Repetition creates familiarity, and that familiarity makes them comfortable."
"Don't be afraid to be a bit annoying. It’s okay to create that sense of FOMO."
"Just don’t be afraid to go hard and to try stuff that people necessarily haven't experienced yet. Because more often than not, people have fun!"
And finally, here are high level notes from Tim Hasse at General Provision Work Club, sharing on creating events as a coworking space or private club:
- Get to know your members/audience deeply. This ensures you're producing events they actually want.
- Establish a formula and cadence for core recurring events like monthly lunches, happy hours, yoga, etc. Makes it sustainable long-term.
- Categorize events into Paid, Partnership, and Produced:
- Paid are income generators using your venue space.
- Partnership takes the burden off your team fully producing events.
- Produced are fully created in-house.
- Have a mix of social events plus professional development/thought leadership events.
- Set guardrails on how many Produced events you can sustainably manage in-house vs. Partnership. Removes pressure.
- Get contact info and market to Partnership event audiences to convert to members — General Provision plays its own 30 second commercial before events begin in their space.
- Early on, donate space aggressively to build a reputation as an event venue. Capture content to share and build an audience.
- Delight members by going "wild" outside the formula at times.
Key thoughts from Tim:
"Without that investment of knowing exactly who your audience is, you will find yourself exhausting resources and energy."
"We have established these three P's. That starts with Paid events, because we are an event venue."
"Where we win most of the time when we're delighting our members with things that are not expected."
Coworking Convos is a monthly virtual event series hosted by Cat Johnson. Each month, a different topic is presented by guests with real experience, who are subject matter experts and walk the walk in the coworking and flex space industry.
Coworks is a sponsor of Coworking Convos, and we have the privilege of sharing these dispatches afterward — spotlighting the juicy tidbits and powerful takeaways shared in the hour-long conversation.
But by no means does this replace the real value of being there! Check out the next Convo and be in the room when it happens.