So, you ignored the wise advice of your elders and decided to open a space before building a community. Now, you’re all by your lonesome in a big empty room, trying to figure out how to leave for lunch without having to close the place and potentially turn away your first customer.
This sucks! This is the worst. You threw a party, and no one came.
But that’s behind you now. You’re here, so let’s get to work. I’m putting on my Winston Wolf hat now.
You have to do exactly what I say if you’re going to have a chance.
Ready? Let’s go!
STEP 1: Pack up your laptop and get out of your space right now.
Put a “Gone Fishin’” sign on the door or something. Go somewhere you can meet people on laptops. Make a hand-drawn sign that says “Looking for coworkers!” and tape it to the back of your laptop.
Don’t be a creeper. Don’t bother people while they’re busy. But do be looking out for opportunities to be friendly and make conversation, even with the barista or managers.
STEP 2: Jam-pack your schedule with events.
While you’re at the cafe, go to Meetup.com and search for any events happening tonight that feelancers/startups/etc might attend. Attend every remotely relevant Meetup you can find in the next two weeks, and maybe throw in some totally irrelevant ones that look fun to you.
Meet people, but don’t shotgun your business cards around the room like confetti. Find people you resonate with and make some quality time to talk to them one-on-one. Community is one good relationship at a time.
STEP 3: Get everyone you know drinking in the same place together.
Throw a happy hour for everyone you know in town. Find a fun spacious bar with a great happy hour special, fire up an event on your Meetup or Facebook or Eventbrite or whatever, and offer to buy a drink to the first 10 people who arrive. Talk to the manager of the bar and see if they’ll help you cross-promote.
At the happy hour, introduce people to each other and LISTEN as much as you can to what’s on the minds of the people you interact with.
Befriend people wherever you can find them. Invite them to dream about what THEY would love to see if they could be part of a (re-)launch of a new coworking community.
Do NOT think about anything to do with your physical space or anything online, aside from posting your event and contacting the people you met in real life. Don’t waste time focusing on social media, tweaking your web site, none of that. Go find real living breathing human beings, look them in the eye, and get to know them.
Whether or not this results in a successful coworking business is not to be known. That answer is in the heads of the people you are going to meet.
By going out and talking to these people, you will gain vital information that will inform how or whether your space can be a viable home for a coworking community.
And who knows what will happen? Your space can be anything. Maybe you’ll run into a few people who are dying to start a makerspace for underprivileged highschoolers, and all they need is the right venue to get the project started.
There’s a world of possibility out there, go catch some of it! And let me know how it goes. Good luck!