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Open Office Strategy Is Great Networking Strategy

by Shashi Bellamkonda on September 13, 2010

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In my previous post, Steve King of EmergentResearch.com described co-working saying “co-working facilities provide a social work environment and a community of like-minded people.”

Are companies thinking about guests who may drop in while designing their office spaces? We are not talking about vendors/clients or employees from other locations coming into town and needing office space.

Are companies creating a social office space where people can drop in and network (i.e like-minded people occasionally drop in and be a guest)? They may not be connected to your organization through a business relationship but more of a social networking relationship. I remember a visit to the offices of the Hodges Partnership in Richmond in May where I shared an office for a few hours. Working in his office gave me a chance to connect with Jon Newman,co-founder of Hodges Partnership. We discussed new campaigns and new media successes, and I got great feedback from him in preparation for my keynote later that evening at the Richmond Social Media Club. Jon and I are not connected as a client but as part of a online network; we are both actively connected on Twitter and met at a D.C. conference Blog Potomac.

Jon Newman says, “We frequently host clients and partners at allied agencies. It not only leads to a sharing of ideas, but it also deepens those relationships because they then see how we work. It also allows folks on our staff who don’t work on their accounts the chance to participate and share ideas as well.” Last week, Elizabeth Shea, president of SpeakerBox Communications LLC, posted a video on their firm’s new offices in McLean chronicling the move and got great responses from her network on Facebook. In response to my question about a “co-working desk for me,” Elizabeth responded: “We have about 3-4 coworker seats, with wireless, either in front of a TV or in complete quiet. Stop by! We’re also offering our conference room out to friends, family and clients for seminars – holds 40 people – if you have a need.”

This gave me a thought that companies providing a co-working place to clients and network connections is a great strategy. Elizabeth Shea has already been fielding requests for her co-working space and said : “We have a client conducting a seminar in the D.C. region for their customers, and they are going to be able to save money and have a personalized venue for customers by holding it in our space, and it helps us by bringing our brand to new faces. It’s a win-win! One thing we’ve learned is we are energized when new people come into our office and brainstorm; we love our office to be buzzing with people. Or even to have people walk around and visit. We wanted a space to make that happen as easily as possible … especially for budding entrepreneurs who might want to tap the minds of other folks.”

Very recently, Network Solutions LLC (my employer) opened its offices for the Product Camp DC to over 60 product managers and experts. During DC week, the law offices of StepToe & Johnson LLP were host to a WomenGrowBusiness.com boot camp and received a lot of positive mentions and kudos from the women entrepreneur community. I am also asking the Washington Business Journal to see if I can drop in next week and co-work from there and brainstorm about the GrowSmartBiz conference on Nov 5.

What co-working experiences do you have to share? Do you open your offices for networking events? What are the benefits to you? Please share your thoughts here.

Originally posted by the author on Washington Business Journal

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