Coworking events can be an important part of running a successful coworking space.
From small happy hours for your members, to lunch and learns, meetups, networking events, presentations, workshops, large events for your extended community and everything in-between, coworking events can serve numerous important purposes, including:
- Providing added value for members
- Bringing new people into your space
- Positioning your space in front of your target market
- Differentiating from other coworking spaces
- Giving members an opportunity to share skills and expertise
- Educating your local community about coworking
- Strengthening your existing member community
- Demonstrating your company values and culture
As NextSpace senior community manager Maya Delano says, events are an “absolutely essential marketing tool and retention tool.”
She explains that whether members take advantage of events or not, they want to know that they have the option of participating in in-space events.
Coworking Event Burnout
The flip side, however, is that events can be exhausting and overwhelming for space operators and teams that are already stretched thin with todos.
Events are time consuming, they take a lot of energy, they require big picture planning and strategizing, as well as detail work down to the level of napkins and name tags.
Delano, who has been hosting events at NextSpace for seven years and was an event organizer before coming into coworking, shared nine tips to prevent event burnout in your coworking space.
1. Understand what works for you, your staff and your budget
“Don’t set yourself up to fail by hosting events that are too large, too detailed, too expensive or too frequent,” says Delano. “Be clear with yourself, your team and any collaborators about what is realistic.”
2. Partner on events with local organizations, including your Small Business Development Center (SBDC).
“This way,” says Delano, “you have two organizations putting their time and resources into one event each month. Doing that has taken a lot of pressure off of both of the organizations, and it’s increased our reach and attendance.”
3. Host events during the 9-to-5 work day
“When you work a full day of coworking and then you have to go into a 6-9 p.m. evening event, you have just pushed yourself too hard,” says Delano. “After the event you have clean up and the next thing you know, you’re not getting home until 11 p.m. Then you’re turning around and you have to be back in the space—with a smile—at 9 a.m.”
Delano and the NextSpace team focus on daytime and lunchtime events, and leave the evening networking events to other people. That way, events fall within the time and structure of the work day.
The team does three large evening events per year—a holiday party and two networking events, including a women in tech event and speed networking—but they limit those large, evening events to three per year.
4. Keep it simple and consistent
NextSpace does a second Tuesday of the month event, a Friday at 3:58 happy hour, and a quarterly breakfast on a Tuesday at 10 a.m.
“By having this structure, you can avoid overbooking yourself with numerous events in one week,” says Delano. “Signature events in your space help everyone get on the same page and lets everyone structure their time accordingly.”
5. Manage your personal expectations
“You can’t do everything, so plan your ideal situation,” says Delano. “If you’re just starting out, try one event per month, or one event per quarter.” She explains that events can be overwhelming if you don’t have an events background and suggests letting other people—a member or an events mentor—help you.
“Let someone show you the ropes,” she says. “The learning curve going from zero events to a bunch of events is huge.”
6. Do member-focused events
In-house events, such as a Wednesday Walkabout lunch, are not about retention and sales. They’re simply about connecting with members and helping them connect with each other.
“Let the members tell people how great your coworking space is. That way you can leverage word-of-mouth.”
7. Plan your event schedule annually
“Sit down with your team and look at the entire year, one quarter at a time,” says Delano. “Look at all the things going on and make sure each quarter’s event schedule is realistic.”
She also advises considering your operational procedures, such as billing, as well as other events when planning your schedule.
8. Curate your events
“You have to do events that you like,” says Delano. “You’re the cool one. You’re the one bringing in the trendy, interesting, fun factor. If it’s not interesting to you, don’t do it.”
She adds that, as a coworking space manager, take feedback and suggestions from members, but your events need to reflect you and, in turn, your community.
9. Be mindful and express your values
“We’ve become the clubhouse for women in tech in Santa Cruz,” Delano says. “I’m not a tech person, but I have the wherewithal to support women in the space, which is really important to me.”
She adds, “So I’m addressing the needs of the community, which is really important, as well as my passion, which is supporting women in a safe working environment.
Cat Johnson is a coworking storyteller and content strategist. She blogs about coworking, the workspace industry, community and content marketing at catjohnson.co
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