Freelancing can be a very lonely experience, especially people who are transitioning from working full time, in house, to being out on their own. I recommended to most people to try out coworking spaces to make their lives less lonely and easier. In this article, I wanted to share some of my favorite tips for making friends at coworking spaces.
While at coworking spaces it can sometimes be a little overwhelming to try and make friends, especially when everyone is heads down with their earphones in. It's one of the universal signs of 'please don't bother me'. However, there are four simple tricks to make organic connections a little bit easier. If you haven't decided on a coworking space yet, check out Choosing the Right Coworking Space for Freelancers to help you decide a great space for you.
Forget Your Computer Charger One Day
One of the strategies I've used to get to know people is to ask them for a favor. Benjamin Franklin shared this tactic for getting people to like you more, and it works surprisingly well - ask people to do something for you. Asking someone to borrow their computer charger for a little bit because you've left yours as home is an easy way to approach a conversation. You have the opportunity both at the beginning when you're asking, or when you're returning the charger, to ask them about themselves - what they're working on, how long they've been at the coworking space, what are their hobbies, etc.
Ask for Recommendations of Good Food Locations Nearby
An easy way to initiate a conversation is to ask someone where are some good food spots nearby. This is a low-risk way to meet someone and give them an opportunity to share some of the knowledge they have. A good way to approach someone is if they've ordered in lunch and asking where they've got it. From there you can go on to ask them more questions about themselves and make it an easy conversation. Alternatively when you're getting a cup of coffee or refilling your water bottle, saying a friendly hello is an easy way to approach a conversation.
As someone with social anxiety, I'm always looking for easy ways to start a conversation with someone that allows me to have an easy out if I'm uncomfortable, or makes it easier to dive into a conversation. This is one great way to do just that.
Attend the Events Put on By Your Coworking Space
Many coworking spaces offer events for people to go to. I highly recommend checking these out! They're a great way to meet people and it's easy to find others who are also looking to make new contacts and friends.
Some events are smaller like new member orientations and others can be sports nights, bonfires, etc, so choose events that work with your schedule and make it an intention to attend 2-3 a month.
Fostering the Relationships
Once you start having these first connections, it can be hard to transition it from small chats to something more meaningful. I typically give it some time to let the relationships grow a little more organically so I don't seem too eager when asking people to do something. For me this typically looks like conversations with someone a few times before asking them to grab lunch or coffee together.
Other tips for connection is if someone is doing work I'm interested in I'll sometimes approach it by wanting to learn more about what they're working on or how they got there. Alternatively, I offer up my expertise as well if people are looking for any of the skills I already have. I've had many conversations with entrepreneurs I've met at coworking spaces looking to start a business in an industry where I have experience. Whether or not there are good friendships vibes, it's also a great opportunity to network and build connections.
There are lots of different ways to make connections with people, the tip is to just get started and get outside of your comfort zone. It takes time to make new friendships or connections so focus on the process instead of the results and have patience with yourself as you move through this transition.