Top Tips for Coworking Community Management by Jeannine van der Linden

Jeannine van der Linden presenting her top tips for coworking community management.

As part of the launch of the Coworking Community Challenge I asked a few coworking space operators to make a video with their top tips for community management. Jeannine sent this great video with what matters the most to her and that I think is extremely useful. She is the founder and operator of De Kamer and also my successor as President of the European Coworking Assembly, among many other coworking related activities.

Full transcript below the video. Highlighting is mine for the tl;dr readers out there :)

My name is Jeannine van der Linden. I run a network of co-working spaces in the Netherlands known as De Kamer. We have eight locations.

I’ve been asked by Ramon to talk about the most important parts of coworking community management.

I think probably after thinking about it for a while the most important thing about coworking community management is know who you are and know who you are for. I mean, it sounds sort of abstract…

When I first started out I engaged in a marketing exercise which was write about your business as if it were a character a character in a book or a play, and I thought it was stupid but I did it anyway.

And truth is, what I’ve discovered in the last eight-nine years of running coworking communities is, it’s really important to know who you are as a coworking community and and who you’re for. You need to be prepared to not be all things to all people.

I think when we start we all want to be all things to all people. No one can, and really it’s not worth the effort to try. You can be for freelancers, you can be for digital nomads, you can be for small businesses, you can be for people who start up businesses on the side but who have a job during the day (there are a lot of those now)…

The number of people using coworking, interested in coworking, who can be benefited by coworking is enormous, and this isn’t pokemon: you don’t gotta catch them all.

Spend some time deciding who you are and who you’re for. Communicate that clearly in your marketing, communicate it clearly to your coworkers and you’ll find a lot of decisions become a lot easier to make. Community management becomes in many ways self-evident. A lot of very difficult problems become very simple.

Figure out who you are and who you’re for. It’s really important

Definition of Coworking

Coworking is the act of engaging a community of freelancers, entrepreneurs, remote workers and small businesses in a shared space with the purpose of working and helping each other out professionally and personally through the creation and activation of relationships.

Coworking requires that the operators of coworking spaces actively create opportunities for and engage the coworkers to get to know and help each other.

The people doing it are the facilitators of coworking spaces (although they can be known under multiple names). They facilitate the introductions, point to who can help, etc.

Without the development of links among the coworkers there’s no community and there’s no coworking.

Coworking also refers to the act of working in a coworking space. In some regions it is used as shorthand for coworking space. When companies say they do coworking they are referring to the fact that they have a coworking space.

Without an engaged community you do not have a coworking space. You may have a collection of people in a shared working space but not a coworking space.

These are the mandatory elements to identify a real coworking space:

* Calls itself or the service it offers coworking.
* Has a fully dedicated space for coworking (not just a few hours or a cafeteria shared with patrons).
* Has an active community of members, not just clients.
* Has at least one facilitator dedicated to connect the members and build trust among them, engaging in activities to build the coworking community.
* Treats coworkers as 1st class clients.
* Promotes and encourage collaboration, interaction and serendipity.
* Offers one or many kinds of membership (full or part time).
* Does not discriminate who can become a member or how they can participate with hidden or implicit rules.

The original elements I included as President of the European Coworking Assembly (abandoned after I left) that were included in the Coworking is Dead article. I advanced this elements in the coworking community group (where the last one was added) before using them as founding principles of the European Coworking Assembly and the nascent Belgian association of coworking spaces (with the approval of the members of both).

Think of them as the eight commandments of coworking.

Coworking is not written with a hyphen. Co-working is wrong when used in this context and should be preserved to refer to people working for the same company (co-workers) as I requested to the AP and they included in the AP Style Book.

Note that AP’s definition does not include a word about community.

There are plenty of other collaborative and shared work spaces and there’s nothing wrong with them, but if they are not doing coworking with its community aspect, they should not refer to themselves as coworking spaces.

You may also want to take a look at the advantages of coworking and its disadvantages.

If you want to open a coworking space or you are struggling with one, you will benefit from reading The Coworking Handbook.

Coworking Handbook Updates

These are the updates to the book The Coworking Handbook. Nothing of substance has changed since it was published. So grab a cup of coffee and relax :)

Introduction

I’ve digged deeper into the definition of coworking with my roles leading coworking associations. You may want to also read Coworking Is Dead.

Community

I’ve made a full course that extends on the community chapter to help coworking space operators grow and activate their communities. It is a practical extension of the chapter in The Coworking Handbook.

Marketing and Sales

Social Media

Facebook and Twitter have lost a lot of impact. They are still useful as part of the marketing mix of channels you use to promote your coworking space but their efficacy is a lot smaller and they drive very little traffic.

Social media are under constant change. As I said in the book, the best thing is to try. Test which ones work for you and keep an eye out for changes in the algorithms and usage trends.

When it comes to tools, I no longer use the ones mentioned in the book. I keep on testing to find the one that works best for me depending on my changing needs.

Email

Not really an update, just a reminder: email is super powerful. Keep on building and refreshing your lists and use them!

Finance

Coworking space operators spend on average between 30 to 40% of their income on the rental of their coworking space.

And that’s it. If you want to be informed of further updates, deals, and other coworking info, sign up here.

Talk to Coworking Operators Like You Once a Week

Because of my thirst for learning and connecting I’ve stumbled upon a service that connects you in a call with other people around the world: Dialup.

When I looked up at the subjects I couldn’t find a line for coworking operators (the people that run the spaces), so I contacted them and Danielle has accepted :) We now have a free line to talk to coworking space operators like us around the world

The name of our channel is cooperator (from COworking OPERATOR). Please, only join if you are already running a coworking space.

I view it as a pre-mastermind group, where once a week you can talk to somebody that is going through the same challenges, ups and downs.  It is not structured and you never know who you are going to talk to or where they are.

This service runs through a free app for Android and iOS When you get a call you take it if you can, no worries to drop them, the person in the other end will be connected to somebody else. 

Enter cooperator in the Join Lines box: 

And click join! 

I know, I know, I’m a has been that is no longer running a coworking space… but I can help a lot. So join the free line if you want to get to talk to me too, but you will mostly speak to each other! :) 

The calls happen right now of Monday evenings, but Danielle is looking into adding more times based on the timezones of the people that signup.

Join the coworking operators phone line!

I’m really looking forward to talk to you :)

PS: this is not a paid advertising. I’m not getting anything from Dialup. I just think this is a great opportunity to get support from other coworking space operators! 

Coworking Quotes to Share

This is a collection of quotes from The Coworking Handbook that I use for social media and that may be useful as notes for those that have already read it. If you find any quote helpful, please share it with the world.

Table of Contents

Focus on delivering value to every single person who joins your coworking space

Use these events, dynamics and tools to strengthen your coworking community links

Close the sale and get paid!

The faster we can strengthen the links among coworkers… the more durable, valuable and profitable the relationship with each coworker will be

Questions to ask when members leave, come for a try out, participate in an event…

Your website is where most of your coworking clients are going to learn about you

Yes, coworking spaces can be profitable

Talk to your clients and put yourself in their shoes

What are the main points of a coworking space leasing contract?

Start Now!

The community of coworkers is what makes a coworking space sustainable in the long term

Coworking or co-working? Skip the hyphen, even AP says coworking :)

The 6 actionable principles of influence that every coworking space owner needs to master

Coworking is not a silver bullet… You need to work hard to promote your space

Help others help the community and you

Coworking spaces are offices not libraries

You are building relationships with humans, not companies

As your coworking community grows you will grow with it

Consider this when designing a coworking space

Good goals are those that you can measure and that give you and idea about the future of your business

There is a bright future for coworking spaces and you are building it

Use this journalists & influencers tracking template

There’s content worthy of sharing all around you

Sending a message out that is not perfect is infinitely better than not sending any message out

A coworking community is not a zero sum game

What to do before, during and after the events you host at your coworking space

What legal entity should I use for my coworking business?

Community adds value to your coworking business and to others

There are 11 checklists and thinking aids in The Coworking Handbook to help you get things done faster

How much space does a single coworking desk take?

How to deal with journalists and influencers

Things to consider when choosing a new location for your coworking space

The marketing and business side of a coworking community

The structure of a basic coworking space website

When you start a coworking community you are the first member

Find coworking floor space calculations

Your biggest coworking competitor is the home of your prospective client

Is location important for a coworking space?

Should a coworking space be profitable? YES!

Who are the clients of coworking spaces?

Cash is the emperor of your universe

Common coworking contracts and agreements

Investors spreadsheet template

Promote and help the promoters of community activities

Understand the different pricing models of coworking spaces

If you are running a coworking business your goal is to get more coworkers and keep them

The most important thing about starting a coworking community: you don’t need a space

The good thing about organizing events is that not many people are willing to do the work

Understand the business model of coworking

Do you want to know what to publish on your coworking space blog?

What’s the optimal size of a coworking space?

Without building relationships among the members of a community, you only have a collection of people

Coworking expands your professional and personal networks

Work for yourself, not by yourself

Community talk is not a hippie dream; it is about adding value to others and to your business

“…odds are this book has the answers to questions… you might not have thought of yet” @tonybgoode

“This book has been a big help, and has also saved me a lot of money in my start-up phase” William Wells

Increase your productivity at a coworking space

Coworking increases your self-confidence

“Ramon’s… deep expertise comes through across the topics covered in the book” @Smallbizlabs

“wish it was available two years ago when we were just getting started :)” @amsoell

Do you want to know how coworking spaces reach success? Learn from my experience

Coworking benefit: you’ll find new clients and increase your income

The main hurdle to coworking success is lack of knowledge and experience

Is coworking too noisy or too quiet?

Focus and concentrate better in a coworking space

Learn how to succeed in managing your coworking space

The main aspects of managing a coworking space: community, marketing & sales, space, finance, legal

Communities are about people,not brands,logos or Facebook pages.The glue that binds them is human relationships

“It is really an outstanding book, so complete and practical. Congratulations!” Professor Jean Bellemans

Do you work better from home or from a coworking space?

Community is an elastic concept, like so many others in the world of coworking

“finished @CoHandbook GREAT reference book w lots of practical info you can put into action” @coworkingdan

“Coworking bible!” Derryn Williamson

When you start a coworking community you are the first member

Everything about opening, operating and growing a successful coworking space

Coworking makes you happier .- @me_bx

Improve your health coworking

When your clients become aware of the value of coworking with you they will become true coworkers

“You must read this if you are planning to open/opening a coworking space!” @shalf

“The Coworking Handbook is a must have resource for anyone starting or running a coworking space” @Smallbizlabs

Learn what you need to know to launch your coworking space and have a clear view of its business potential

A coworking community is based on experience, participation, responsibility and relationships

“I’m enjoying reading the @cohandbook Coworking Handbook by @ramonsuarez! Make sure to check it out!” @bradneuberg

“Well written concise but packed with helpful information about starting a coworking space business” Vincent Tabor

Everything you need to know about opening, operating and growing a successful coworking space in 204 pages

Find talent and people to work with at coworking spaces

Your community is formed by and has a role in different communities that go beyond the walls of your coworking space

“Loved every minute of this book” Nathan D. Curtis

How to value and nurture your coworking community

Get more coworking clients, save time,reduce your workload, take full advantage of your space, focus on what matters

The business model of coworking is not complicated

One of your roles is to help build trust among the coworking members

“It’s called The Coworking Handbook for a reason: because it is!” @tonybgoode

You are building relationships with other human beings, it is not a one way street

There are always different communities and sub-communities interacting in your coworking space

Looking for ideas to design your coworking space?