How to Grow Your Business and Build Your Network Through Coworking | By Zontee Hou
As a marketing agency owner, I talk to business owners every day about how they can grow their businesses. And for most companies, in just about every industry, word of mouth and the power of their network is key. It’s how they connect with new prospective customers/clients. But how do you grow your network? Well—have you thought about joining a coworking space?
I joined Brooklyn Creative League in 2014 to get away from my kitchen table and the distractions in my apartment. But what I found was that the warm community of professionals at BCL has been a great resource to me. Not only have I made many friends—which can be tough, let’s face it, when you get to adulthood—but I’ve also gained a village of folks who have helped me grow my business and to whom I’ve referred business. Here are just a few ways that BCL has helped me build my network.
Meet Prospective Clients Around the Office
From app developers to health/wellness startups to publishers, I’ve met a variety of entrepreneurs who were interested in my company’s services at BCL just by chatting by the printing stations or over a fresh pot of coffee. Quite a few of them have become clients over the years. Because these conversations happened in low-pressure environments—hanging out in the BCL kitchen or lounge—we were able to build relationships meaningfully, but also have the convenience of just being a few steps away from our own workspaces or offices. Literally, just in the last 30 days, my firm has taken on a new client that I met at BCL.
Receive Referrals from the Network
Having BCL as a resource has been invaluable to me as a small business owner, because it allows me to build a network from the comfort of my own workspace—I don’t have to attend early morning meetings like some networking groups or pitch myself to a room full of strangers. (No shade to people who love networking events, but they’re not my favorite.)
In fact, one of my current long-time clients is an engineering firm that had previously worked with two other BCL members, whom they asked for referrals for marketing services. (Thanks for putting in a good word, Tom and Robin!) You know as well as I do that professional referrals build trust and put you at the top of the list when it comes to evaluating potential vendors. Because I had two different trusted vendors of theirs speak highly of me, it was easy for this client to say yes to hiring my agency.
Find Vendors & Partners to Recommend
Of course, this works the other way as well. Here’s an actual list of categories of BCL members that I’ve recommended over the years to my personal and professional networks:
- financial planner
- civil engineer
- graphic designers
- art director
- website developers
- video production companies
- interior designers
Seriously—where else will you meet people across so many different industries and have personal relationships with them? If someone asks me for a recommendation for professional services, I turn to my BCL network first.
Get Expert Business-Matchmaking
Are you an introvert? Do you look at the above scenarios and say to yourself, “Yeah, but I still have to meet other members and get to know them, and that’s harder than you think”? I’ve got you too.
One of the best things about BCL is that its co-founders are hands-on. Because it’s an independently owned and operated coworking space, co-founders Neil & Erin are highly involved in building the community—and they know all of their members well. This means that they are always ready to jump in and make recommendations and make introductions. When I was looking for video production companies to recommend to a client, they identified a few members I should connect with. When an architectural firm and BCL member was looking for marketing services, they introduced my firm to them.
This is one of the biggest benefits of being a BCL member: it increases the footprint and the visibility of your company because it’s not just an office space; it’s a community of neighborly professionals. If you’re not yet convinced, pop by on a Salad Wednesday or Friday Happy Hour and get to know the folks who work in the space. I’m sure you’ll meet people you’ll be happy to have in your network!
Zontee Hou is the president of digital marketing agency Media Volery, a sought-after marketing speaker, and a former university lecturer. Her forthcoming book will be published by Kogan Page in 2024. Her last blog post for BCL was on why she upgraded to a full-time desk; click here to read that post.