The Farm SoHo is a coworking and event space listed on Peerspace. We talked to the team to get their tips on how best to take advantage of hosting as successful networking event.
Many coworking spaces double up as event venues. These spaces are often highly versatile and visually stunning, giving your event the “wow” factor it needs to stand out from the crowd. It’s a great option if you want to market your budding business, but don’t want to host another poorly attended event in a stuffy meeting room.
The communities housed in coworking spaces also bring a unique opportunity for event networking. Sancar Ayalp, head of partnerships and business development, at The Farm Coworking NYC, said, “Our coworking and event space has a built-in, diverse community across a range of industries. Those hosting events will get access to this community – and the community gets access to some fascinating and highly useful events for their work and business.”
Dev-shop Lotus Technologies is part of The Farm community. Its CEO and lead developer, Dossey Richards, explained the further benefits of event networking, “It enables you to find people who are quite possibly looking for you as well. A place to be honest about your ambitions and interests.”
Here are four tips to help you rock event networking in a coworking space:
Pick a location that complements your business
Each coworking space has a different environment that has been carefully fostered for its community. For example, some coworking spaces are more corporate in their aesthetics, others bring a more relaxed vibe.
You will also need to work out your target audience and find a coworking space to match this demographic as many also focus on specific sectors.
Healthcare-focused studio Mobiuso used The Farm for an event under the auspices of the meetup group. According to Santhosh Kumaraswamy, president at Mobiuso, the space not only offered an “awesome, chic space and great ambiance, which is convenient for participants,” but The Farm is also co-branded as Blueprint Health, which is relevant for Mobiuso given its focus in mobile healthcare.
Mobiuso helps Fortune 100 companies and cutting edge startups the world over design, develop and launch mobile products to meet their exacting needs in record time. Customers include Pfizer, Celgene and Samsung, alongside startups from Blueprint Health, Harvard Business School and Columbia Business School, so The Farm was a natural fit for their business and event.
Double check the facilities you need
What sort of event do you want to host? A formal talk? An informal party? Make sure you find out what facilities are available, as Santhosh said, “The space [The Farm] offers everything including all logistics support (setup, teardown, food, projection needs etc). The space also actively supports networking events with generous and flexible terms for networking events making it doubly attractive for me.”
“This enabled me to host a team of prominent investors, superstar physicians, CEOs, and senior leaders from software engineering and marketing in a cool space. Hosting this group then allowed me to attract lots of people who are interested in mHealth to attend the event and it was a resounding success for me and for the participants,” Santhosh added.
This last point from Santhosh is an important one. You must also find out what level of support you will get from your coworking space, not just the facilities on offer.
Set goals for your event, but make sure you don’t over think things on the night. Dossey said, “I have met a great many people through event networking. And I’ve definitely gotten leads from them too. The trick is to just hangout and relax.”
“You can’t go into one with a fixated goal, you have to be open and relaxed and seek genuine dialog with other people. And honestly I avoid talking about work 80% of the time. People should network to find new friends and develop those relationships,” Dossey added.
Remember the big picture
If you don’t get the contract you wanted, or your target companies fail to turn up to your event, then don’t despair. The beauty of event networking is that it can bring opportunities to you that you weren’t expecting.
Dossey said: “The truth is you may not find a significant amount of clients at such events. But you can find new friends and people to develop your own network. The resulting network will be a powerful tool that can definitely put you on an entirely different level. And in my opinion is a much more valuable pursuit.”
What are the next steps?
If you’re interested in hosting an event at a coworking space, it’s a good idea to have a chat with the community manager. The Farm’s Ayalp added: “We’re always on hand to meet up for a coffee and talk through the possibilities, which are pretty limitless. We’ve got 1,500 sq ft loft event space right on Broadway with loads of facilities – including a fully elevated DJ booth!”