I’ve probably been hearing about coworking since 2011 or so. I have a great setup at home and hate commuting (seriously, the least favorite part of my day when I’m in an office — the Metro is so crowded in the morning, I used to shift my hours just to avoid those crowds). I didn’t really consider myself to be a likely candidate for coworking because of that and a love of yoga pants. I have a fantastic desk in front of my floor-to-ceiling window. I have all the coffee and tea I could want, along with wine for as soon as I finish my work on a long day. Plus I have my cat for when I need a break.
Then a new group, Creative Colony, started up in my neighborhood. They were literally blocks from my home. I first noticed them via Twitter before their space had even opened. I noticed that they were tweeting about my favorite local market (Fenton Street Market) and other cool activities so I started following them. I liked the tone of their Twitter. Because they stressed that happy hours did not require being a member, I went to one and met some fantastic people.
When I started up a Twitter account for my local nonprofit thrift shop, Creative Colony began following and retweeting us. They also helped promote our events. Then they began hosting free Monday morning pre-work lectures that I enjoyed and I saw how people easily buckled down to work after the talks. I started to think about giving their discount day pass a try. It was $10. If I hated it, I could easily drink enough coffee and tea, or print enough, to make the money worthwhile. I was hooked after that first day. I somehow finished more work that one day than in two normal days. My boyfriend actually had to text me in the evening to ask when I was coming home because I got into such a good work groove.
Then they did a free coworking week with no pressure to purchase, other than an extra discount if you bought a membership that week.
I’m sure you can guess, I ended up buying a membership. Although what I’m getting for the membership fee is awesome, that wasn’t what brought me in the door, built up my loyalty, and even pushed me over the edge. That was done through social media and community involvement. By focusing not on selling, but on providing value and building up our community, they got me in the door. By then focusing even further on connecting people within the community and providing value for free, they earned my loyalty. Without getting me in the door and earning my loyalty, I liekly wouldn’t have considered a membership, let alone taken the plunge on one.
I got a lite membership (5 days a week) so even if I end up in a full-time, on-site gig somewhere I could still use the space on the weekends or let my boyfriend use the space for his branding work. I’m also still interacting with them on Twitter, thanking them for supporting my volunteer gig, and encouraging friends to go to their Monday morning workshops.
If you want to learn more about selling by focusing on giving away value for free, I highly suggest Mark Schaefer’s book Social Media Explained . I snagged a free copy at an awesome Vocus event where he spoke in the spring, but it’s easily worth the roughly $8.50. Reading it always reminds me of why I love social media and modern marketing. I’m not sure I’d have enjoyed marketing and advertising in the Man Men era of sell, sell, sell, but I love it now when brands see great results by focusing on giving away value and actually helping people, rather than only selling to them. That’s a marketing world where I want to be.