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How brokers can use coworking spaces to build relationships with new clients

Nov 1, 2016

coworking 11-1-16-205617-edited.jpgCoworking spaces are incredibly attractive to startups and early-stage businesses. The flexibility, community and perks characteristic of shared workspaces like WeWork and Galvanize take pressure off of over-extended founders, allowing them to focus on scaling their business, rather than running an office. But as a business grows, the frat-house-like atmosphere common in many coworking spaces can turn into a major liability, and coworking burnout often ensues.

If you’re a broker looking to corner the startup market, this is where you come in.

We wrote a bit about the appeal of coworking spaces before, but we wanted to get into more detail on how exactly brokers can build relationships with business owners there.

The idea is that by investing time in building relationships with startups early on, you can drastically increase the chances of that once small startup giving you a call when it comes time to sign their first lease. And down the road, if you’ve played your cards right, you’ll be the one representing them when they upgrade even further.

Two ways to get your foot in the door

Of course, finding and forging relationships with early-stage teams can be incredibly time-consuming. So how do you make sure you’re meeting the right companies early on, without wasting precious time and resources?

The key is to get creative.

One idea to try is getting a desk inside a coworking space. Not only will you receive the benefit of switching up your work environment, you’ll also be able to mingle with startups in a non-sales setting. It’s no secret—startup founders are wary of overly aggressive brokers. But by taking the time to understand the startup ecosystem from the inside, you will be proving your credibility and building relationships naturally.

Another strategy you can tackle is monitoring startup growth using a site like Mattermark or Crunchbase to see when companies raise rounds and are thus more likely to hunt for an office. Mattermark has paid subscription options, but you can also look out for blog posts like this one and do the work of visiting each of the company’s sites and seeing where they list their address. From there you can match addresses to coworking spaces. If the company is working from a coworking space but just raised a major round of funding, then it’s time to get in touch. And if you’ve spent time working in a coworking space then you’ll be able to demonstrate your empathy for their situation with first-hand insights.

Let coworking spaces put in the effort—and still get your commission

Now that you know how to source new clients from coworking spaces, it’s time to learn how to leverage coworking spaces to cultivate relationships.

Through your prospecting efforts, you’ll no doubt run into potential clients who seem to be on the verge of doing something really great, but just aren’t ready for your services. The last thing you want is to take a risk on a small company, spend hours building a relationship, hunting for small spaces and negotiating short-term leases, only for that client to go out of business weeks later.

In the startup world, this is all too common. So, how do you continue to add value to your relationship with a growing company without burning through all of your resources?

Simple. Use a coworking space to nurture the relationship for you.

By referring a client that’s not yet ready for their own lease to a coworking space, you will prove your integrity as a broker to the client by doing the right thing, plus you’ll have a reason to continue checking in every few months without having to do much legwork.

Coworking spaces like WeWork tend to have robust broker referral programs, meaning you won’t just be earning good karma from referring clients to coworking, you’ll be earning a commission as well.

Once your client settles into their new coworking space, your job is far from over. You’ll want to ensure you’re checking in at key moments to monitor their growth plans. That way, when the inevitable coworking burnout hits and they’re ready for their own office, you’re first on their list to call.

Download: The Commercial Real Estate Best Practices Toolkit

Topics: Best Practices

Nell Gable

Written by Nell Gable

Nell Gable is a freelance writer who specializes in creating compelling content for CRE companies and startups.

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