Coworking = Trade Shows

By Katharine 5 years agoNo Comments

Coworking must build community through experience.

Katharine Chestnut, Diamond Level CTSM

Coworking and trade shows have much in common.

Let me explain.

My background is in marketing. Specifically, face-to-face marketing, which includes all things related to meeting face-to-face: trade shows, user conferences, executive briefing centers, client or sales appreciation events, etc. The list goes on. I spent 30+ years in this world starting at the bottom by assembling my own exhibits to ending up planning the global strategy for Fortune 500 companies. When I decided I’d had enough of traveling all the time and needed some ‘me’ time at home, little did I realize that I would be starting a coworking business shortly thereafter.

At first blush, I perceived coworking to be a million miles away from my former career and lifelong passion of face-to-face marketing.

After a couple years of successfully growing Alkaloid Networks, I was fortunate to win a ticket to GCUC in 2017 (thanks Leeann of!). Knowing the value of conferences, I was extremely excited to go and meet my new tribe. I stayed in every session, networked, made new friends and generally soaked up the coworking love that abounded.

However, there was one session that connected the dots for me. It was early on the 1st day and the speaker was talking about how a coworking space needed to be more than just desks and chairs. In order to be successful and more than a commodity, a coworking space needs to build community and an EXPERIENCE. That was when the lightbulb went off over my head.

My background in trade shows and events taught me early on that in order to create trust and a visceral connection with your customers and prospects, you have to immerse them in an experience. To that end, experiential marketing has been a key buzzword in the event industry for years. I worked closely with experiential teams to ensure key messaging and event objectives were met.

Fast forward to my new career path and GCUC. I realized that I HAD been creating an environment and, more importantly, an experience for my coworking members for the past 2+ years. And in doing so, I had been creating a community along with something very special.

Some of these experiences were simple things that came naturally to me. Like leaving handwritten notes on their desks that welcomed them to our community. Or being present everyday and learning about what was important to members in their professional and personal lives. Or going the extra mile by introducing members to each other that could potentially provide assistance to each other in areas that they needed help. The biggest thrill for me was when I observed members connecting on their own daily or at community events and watching them develop friendships and relationships that enhanced their lives.

The bottom line was that the members felt the community was a part of their lives. Through their own experiences, they FELT a visceral connection to everyone else in the space. They were a part of something bigger that contributed to their livelihood and wellbeing.

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