While friends who work at traditional companies are talking about holiday parties and potlucks, those who work on their own might be feeling like something is missing. After all, social media people are, by nature, social. The company atmosphere seems especially important for those who work developing virtual communities.
Coworking spaces are large office spaces where individuals or really small businesses can rent anything from a mailbox or a spot at a community table to desks, cubicles, and small offices. They have all the comforts of an office: receptionist, meeting rooms, office supplies, and more, as well as people to talk to at the proverbial water cooler.
“Social Media Managers tend to be lone wolves. They’re not typically part of a huge department, and often they are required to have knowledge beyond PR, marketing, or promotion,” says Kenton Hansen, founder of The Labor Party, a coworking space in Wichita, Kansas. “A coworking space offers a place to work, but more so, it offers a workplace culture that is missing from a home office or coffee shop.”
Here are 5 reasons why social media professionals should consider coworking.
1. Networking. “The culture of NextSpace is one of friendly collaboration,” explains Los Angeles NextSpace Community Curator Meaghan Keyser. “We encourage people to get to know each other, ask questions, even work on projects together. Particularly in our Cafe space, we have people sitting next to new people every day which encourages lots of new exchanges on a semi-regular basis. You never know who you’re going to meet or what you’re going to learn. Also, as the community curator I facilitate interactions on a daily basis. When members come to me with specific questions I connect them with other community members who may have expertise in a certain area or who I know have connections that could be useful.”
2. Events. “We host a lot of events at JuiceTank,” shares general manager Mason Carter. “We’ve had a lot of meetups that are of value to social media professionals, bringing in great talent to give lectures from companies such as Distilled (an online marketing firm), GrowHack (a lean marketing resource for startups), and SynergiSocial (a social media marketing company based in NJ). … We also let the meetup be a platform for attendees to express their needs and goals, so that everyone can get something beneficial out of their time.”
3. Business Development. “Coworking is by definition live social media,” says Jack Srour, owner of NY-based Jay Suites. “The relatively informal atmosphere and constant interaction enable deploying ideas to a group and [receiving] feedback or buzz quickly, similar to sharing on social sites. It’s even more helpful because in coworking spaces, people can put an online personality to a real-time face; this authenticates a business and makes others feel confident and comfortable participating in a discussion.”
“At JuiceTank, we have companies who are working out of our space that are in need of the talent,” states Mason Carter. “A coworking space can be a great base of operation for a social media consultant, because it helps them get consistent work right out the space, while still giving them the chance to put resources into their own ventures.”
4. Productivity. “Working in Social Media and PR can become overwhelming at times, but Share Space in Houston, Texas, is interactive,” explains Vannessa Wade, Connect The Dots PR. “Some days you just need interaction with people so you can refresh your energy. Share Space also offers … community classrooms where people can learn how to implement ideas into business and use them. It is a wonderful place to be. I get to work, interact and test out my ideas before implementing them.”
5. Community. “In previous jobs I was very much on my own,” shares Vanessa Williams, Online Marketing Coordinator for Forge3, located in business incubator Ben Franklin Techventures in Northeastern Pennsylvania. “Now, not only do I have a coworker who has a similar skill set and serves our various clients, but there are several others throughout the building who I have access to. It is a wonderful asset for me to bounce ideas off of them. Because of the nature of my industry, it is very fast paced and changing constantly, it is nice to have an intelligent discussion about the changes that are occurring. Before this position, my only resource for such discussion was other colleagues on Twitter. At the end of the day, these pop in discussions, combined with chance meetings in kitchens and other common areas, really help me do my job and improve our business.”
“We, as humans, need high-touch human interaction, as well as virtual stimulation, “ believes Brian Mac Mahon, CEO, Your Office Agent, which is based in Los Angeles. “Coworking fills this void for home-workers, mobile-workers, and those who want to spread whatever message they have.”
It is important for social media professionals to get out of the house and interact IRL (in real life). We all love our coffeehouses – and there are benefits to working in those environments. However, coworking offers social media pros a place where they can be productive, take meetings, and have meaningful interactions. water cooler-time.