Working Social – Organic Networking
The right way to network and build your business
I walk into Starbucks and I see the usual suspects. The hipster group is well represented and the soccer moms are getting their energy to gear up for the afternoon cycle of pickups and drop-offs. Then I see them, you know them, and you might even be one, one of them, the business guy with his laptop/briefcase/coffee and newspaper. He’s setup shop and is settling in for a long stay. He looks content but then I notice something off. He seems a little uncomfortable, too muck noise, too many people too close. These aren’t business people. These aren’t his peers. He wants to have his own office but keeps justifying this overuse of ‘free’ Wi-Fi as being frugal. The scene continues like this through out the morning, different faces but the same situation. It looks like is social but its not, its just frustrating.
What he really wants (even if he doesn’t realize it) is to be Working Social. Working Social looks somewhat like a coffee shop but with less grinders and blenders and cash registers; with plenty of coffee and with more desks and more business people and conference rooms and a copier.
When you are Working Social you are working with your peers, other business professionals who can appreciate your need for isolation and exposure, camaraderie and candid conversation. The level on conversation can range from “how’s the family” and “is it really snowing again” to “did your client accept your proposal” and “thanks for the referral” and “I met a guy who needs your services”. Through natural conversations people Working Socially naturally get to know each other. They get to know each other’s business and family and along the way get to know each others character and come to build trust with each other. Referrals happen naturally among trusted peers, among friends. This is not a forced referral environment but more like, I know you and respect you and want to refer people to you.
Working Social can’t happen at Starbucks or Panera or in an individual office. It can only happen is a shared environment intentionally designed to bring like-minded individuals together.
“Hey, what do you say we both be independent together, huh?”
– Hermey (Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer)
Coworking shops and true “shared offices” are some of the only places to find people Working Socially. Without this daily interaction among each member it’s impossible to build the relationships that will blossom into trusted referrals, peer-to-peer business deals and a genuine caring about each other and each other’s success.
So, go out there and find a good coworking shop; there are plenty to choose from. Junction 440, Bamboo, and Grand Circus are some of the choices in the city of Detroit, and there is Metro Work Space (my office) in Livonia and Farmington, Byte and Mortar in Troy, and Workantile in Ann Arbor, to name a few. These offices provide something more than what is listed as amenities—something more than you can find in any coffee shop, and something you will never get from a traditional office. Coworking is not a fad; it’s not just a cheaper office. It’s a new way to work, supported by sites like http://www.commerciallightingcompany.co.uk/, and a better way to work. It’s working socially.