Standing out from the crowd. It’s tough, isn’t it?
How to use coworking spaces to showcase your design work
It seems like everyone has as an online portfolio, Dribbble presence, a Pinterest board and tweets about their latest project. #designer. #creative. #artist.
There is one underused resource in the design community that could help you get your work noticed. I’m talking about coworking.
Coworking spaces (in case you’ve not heard of them) are shared spaces where digital nomads hire a desk or an office on a flexible basis. It’s the middle ground between firing up your laptop in another cramped coffee shop or forking out for an expensive office rental agreement.
This cost-effective flexibility has attracted freelancers and big businesses alike. The spaces on offer are incredibly diverse and they all have one thing in common – a great community.
It’s this community, along with a wealth of other unique features, that could get your work put in front of the right people.
Why Coworking Matters For Your Work
First, coworking spaces are visually stunning. Your work will really stand out in such spaces. For example, The Farm Coworking is a 5,000 sq. foot loft space, situated in New York’s vibrant Manhattan district and kitted out with high-tech facilities and a rustic vibe. There’s plenty of potential to shine when you’re showcasing your work against such an impressive backdrop.
Second, coworking spaces are run by uber-enthusiastic teams. Your community manager will become your BFF. When it comes to showcasing your work, they can offer a world of advice and unique insights into what works for the space and its community.
Which leads me onto my last point, coworking spaces come with a kick-ass community of talented and freethinking people who will support your work. This community is the best resource to help you network and reach outside its boundaries to get your work seen on a wider stage.
Connecting With The Community
So, how can you tap into the coworking community to showcase your work? It’s really not that difficult. First, you just need to introduce yourself and make use of the community spaces (like the kitchen, couches and other hangout areas) where you can join in the conversations.
Coworking spaces are a hotbed for networking and potential collaborations. So, attend a few events, take your headphones off and get involved – because you’re the most valuable asset to showcase your work.
John Samuels, founder and CEO at boutique healthcare navigation service Better Health Advisors, said: “The collaborative environment makes it easy to engage with colleagues and learn about their work. It has been an opportunity for me to connect with other healthcare startups by providing them with insight on hospital operations and the future of healthcare in NYC.”
John added: “In addition, I have been working with Savannah Carlin, marketing director at World Clinic, who is also a freelance designer and writer. Since her company and mine are similar, she quickly understood what we do, and updated our website and marketing materials to better reflect our mission.”
This is a common scenario in coworking spaces. Initial introductions often grow into more meaningful collaborations and, suddenly, a longstanding working relationship has developed.
Freebies are also a popular way to connect with the community. For example, if you’ve just created a new font or cool set of icons – why not consider offering these for free to the coworking community as an incentive to check out your work? Or you could put your offering on the space’s newsletter to extend your reach.
Some coworking spaces also let members paint murals on their walls or put up examples of their work around the space. It’s a great way to get people looking at and discussing your work.
Lucas Seyhun, co-founder at The Farm Coworking, said: “We’re always open to new ideas. One of our members came to us with the idea of displaying drawings from a little girl who was diagnosed with cancer. She was from the midwest and wanted her work to be displayed in the Big Apple. This was her dream, but she couldn’t attend since she was bedridden. We put her drawings up in our space, organized a small show, took lots of photos and sent it to her. It’s the seemingly little things like this that are the reason why I started this venture.”
Run an Event
One of the best ways to showcase your work is to run an event. Sounds daunting, doesn’t it? But a coworking space is the perfect place to host an event to showcase your work.
First, you can take advantage of the space’s facilities. So, you don’t need to worry about hiring a projector or finding enough seats. Second, the space’s community managers are on hand to guide you through your first event. They’ll know the best layout, format and even which catering company to use. Last, the coworking community means your event has a ready-made audience.
You don’t have to pull out all the stops either. For example, you could just host a simple lunch and learn session. Conrad Egusa, founder of specialist startup PR firm Publicize, said: “I have found the lunch and learn settings to be effective in bringing people together. Lunch and learns tend to be fairly informal and they tend to have fairly large audiences, particularly in cities that are high density such as New York and San Francisco.”
Conrad added: “The audiences at these events are also often broader than only startup founders as well, with people coming from university departments and Fortune 500 companies during their lunch breaks. To me, the biggest benefit from these events is that they enable speakers to position themselves as thought leaders in a specific space. Although there may not be an immediate return from this from a business perspective, I have (over the long-term) seen positive results.”
It’s a great concept. For example, you could offer a free workshop to demo how to design a business card. Or you could run a series of monthly classes to fully showcase your skills.
If you want to do something more in-depth, then a coworking space is the perfect place to unveil a new product or service. You could even host a community-only event before a launch to get feedback from fellow members on your new idea. Or you could run a hackathon where you partner with a local business. The options are endless for those eager to run an event at a coworking space.
Bringing It All Together
If you’re really nervous about showcasing your work then coworking provides another solution. You don’t have to do it alone.
You could choose to host an event or showcase your wares with a fellow coworker. Often, such collaborations give you the reassurance of having another person to rely on – while you can shine when you talk about your area of expertise.
Lucas added: “That’s the beauty of coworking. It’s such a flexible option. You can find the best way to showcase your work – for you. And, in a coworking space both your fellow members and your space’s team will cheerlead and further promote your work. Everyone’s got your back.”