From Instagram to Uber, many innovative companies have used co-working spaces as their launching pad.

These spaces offer opportunities for entrepreneurs and small business owners to expand their networks, while also helping them manage the costs associated with having a dedicated office space.

But aside from increased flexibility and productivity, co-working environments also present a way to reach your business goals by engaging with a community of like-minded professionals.

Here’s how:

1. Better networking through community events

Events are an extremely powerful way to spark connections between people.

One UK study from 2015 concluded that co-working spaces emphasise ‘intangible factors and social aspects including entrepreneurial networking, mentoring … through flexible, informal settings’.  However, they did note that hosts or facilitators do need to play a key role in making all this happen.

Which is where community events come in.

It’s also helpful for those who may feel uncomfortable approaching someone directly in a business context, but find that attending an event makes interaction far more natural.

If your co-working space hosts an event every other week, for example, you will have a great opportunity to get to know the people around you in a relaxed atmosphere, and can build solid working relationships with them over time.

How this benefits you and your SME

What can you get from this? Relationships started at community events can lead to collaboration – one of the building blocks of a sustainable business. You may even discover a new supplier, a great mentor, or a potential new business partner in the process.

The shared sense of ambition found in entrepreneurial circles goes a long way, too. These events will help you connect with engaged individuals who share the skill and passion required to build and grow a successful business.

The sheer convenience of these events should not be overlooked, either. Community events hosted by your co-working space require no effort on your part. You can grow your network and forge new professional bonds without having to organise it yourself or even leave your office space.

The first step to tapping into the benefits of your co-working community is simply to show up to these events.

2. Success through daily social interaction

Even simple, daily conversations can help problem solving.

As far back as 2008, Polly LaBarre called co-working ‘the best of both worlds.’ She argued that it had ‘the collegiality and the collaboration of the office space without the politics, you have the coffee and mix of ideas and the informality of the coffee shop without having to fight for an electrical outlet at Starbucks, and you have all the freedom and flexibility of working at home.’

It is not surprising that over the past decade or so the co-working community has grown exponentially across the globe.

What this means is that on any given day, there are thousands, perhaps millions, of casual interactions with people you wouldn’t usually encounter in a traditional office setting. This seemingly small detail – at the coffee machine, at the water cooler, or just chatting across desks – can have a big effect on how you think about the challenges facing your business.

In short, there is suddenly a huge amount of diverse expertise at your doorstep.

How this benefits you and your SME

Getting to know your co-working colleagues can help you develop new perspectives, and at the very least, nurture the sense of camaraderie that is often sacrificed when embarking on a new business venture. In this simple way, you’ll automatically feel like you’re part of something larger.

Even a casual conversation can spark an idea for your next project, or perhaps inspire a new approach to overcoming a specific challenge you may be facing.

In fact, the relationships you build over a friendly foosball game or while waiting for your coffee can come to your aid when you need them most. When you know your co-working colleagues well, you will be able to identify whose expertise you can lean on when you’re in search of solutions.

It may be less ‘organised’ than an actual event, but it can pay dividends.

3. The power of shared knowledge

Co-working spaces are fertile ground for the transfer of information. 

Co-working has become such a byword for innovation, a study from Germany found that now even established companies are trying to replicate it. In an effort to foster new ideas and encourage innovation, some major businesses are now essentially creating co-working spaces within their own office buildings or campuses.

But this is something that freelancers, entrepreneurs, and SMEs have known for a long time. Except with the added edge of sharing across industries, which is not possible if working within one single organisation.

How this benefits you and your SME

Simply working within close proximity to individuals from various industries comes with a unique set of benefits. The transfer of information not only makes the emergence of thought leaders in your immediate community more likely, but also creates a space for innovative businesses that are informed and nuanced.

Sharing leads to collaboration, and collaboration leads to innovation. From access to a broader set of resources, to the social hubs that encourage human connection, co-working environments are great for seeing business owners through this entire process.

Your co-working life

All three ideas we have talked about are interconnected – and by situating yourself in a co-working space, you’re giving your small business the best chance to benefit from formal networking events, casual day-to-day interactions, and sharing knowledge with experts both within and outside your industry.