Big shout out to Cat Johnson for hosting a Coworking Convo about creating a place of belonging last week. She had some amazing speakers (including our very own founder, Liz Elam) that got us thinking. We put together our list of go tos for creating a welcoming space. Check them out below.
BTW, if you want to see the recording of the event, you can join The Lab and get access.
First things first- your community is made up of humans that operate on the hierarchy of needs.
“Those needs are physiological needs, safety needs, love and belonging needs, esteem needs, and self-actualization needs”
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To create a space of belonging and comfort you need to hit all of those.
People want to feel safe, feel loved, respected, important and cared for. The space you create both physically and otherwise needs to contribute to inciting those feelings in your members.
This is built from both the top down but also the bottom up. Empower your members to help you cultivate this space that welcomes people in, organically.
The best compliment you can get is when a member shares about your business to others they love and trust.
Say their name when you welcome them and every time you see them after. People like hearing their own names. It makes a personal connection that shows you invested time in preparing for them, getting to know them, etc. It is personal.
- Find a common ground. Ask them about their work needs for your space but also about their passions. Find the human connection and intro them to others in the space that can relate.
- Tell the story and show them how being a part of a space ties them to something much greater than themselves. How does your community impact other local businesses? What is your proximity spend? How does that support those around you? How does your members and space contribute to the local ecosystem? National? International?
- Remember the little things and make them a priority. Celebrate their wins. Birthdays, anniversaries.
- Find the pieces of delightful nostalgia and integrate them into your space. One space always has bread Pb&J because it is a simple cheap comfort food that most of us grew up on. Rainbow popsicles in the summer. Hot coco in the winter.
- Food is great but play on all of the senses that flood the brain with serotonin and good memories. Smell, sight, sounds… use them all to your advantage
- Curate a space of safety and comfort. Are their people like them and unlike them in the space they can connect with and empathize with?
- BUT also note… one of the kindness things you can do is protect your culture.
- Not everyone that walks in your space will be a fit and that’s okay. Have other spaces you can suggest they tour and check out. It’s perfectly acceptable to say I’m not sure our space is the right fit for you and I want to make sure you have the best experience with coworking as possible. I think (suggest spaces) might have something that hits the bullseye for you. Can I set you up with an intro?
- Bad fit members have the potential to ruin your community. Just because they are a bad fit for your space does not mean they can’t find a coworking space elsewhere.They just need to be encouraged to try other flavors.
- Give them something to call theirs. Empower them to think of the space like an extension of their business. Let them show their friends around. (this also helps with getting them to take care of the space ike you want them to because they are more likely to treat their own things nicer than that of others.)
- Ask them to contribute to the community in a meaningful way if they are up for it. Let them host events. Ask them to teach a coffee class on something in their wheelhouse. Let them help you build the community they want.