We didn’t know if it would work.
Could we pull off a community conversation via Zoom?
It was October of 2019 and we thought 25 might be as big as a Zoom call could get without falling apart.
We tested 25 and it worked fine.
So we tested 50.
Looking back, those first steps are laughable, but they were necessary.
Coworking Convos has now attracted more than 4,300 participants from around the world.
We recently hosted our 20th Convo and it feels like we’re just getting started.
There’s so much we want to do (and can do) with this community-focused event series.
We’re excited to keep going and growing.
I’ve learned a lot along the way and I’d like to share my vision, some lessons learned about running and hosting Convos, and give props to our guests, co-hosts, teammates, partners and sponsors who make it all possible.
Here are 20 lessons learned from 20 Coworking Convos
1. Inspired timing: Coworking Convos was just ramping up when Covid hit. I’ll be forever grateful that, during a time where coworking space operators really needed support, encouragement, pro tips and community, Convos could help provide it. I’m not sure how that worked out so nicely. We’ll just attribute it to coworking magic.
2. Do hard things: In the early days of Coworking Convos, I would have anxiety for a week leading up to each event. What if the tech fails? What if someone is disruptive? What if I forget what I’m supposed to say? We survived all of these and more. And I’ve learned that the more you do things that are outside your comfort zone, the less anxiety-inducing they are.
3. Trust your community: Every single time we’ve had an issue, our community has been there to hold us up and step in to keep things going. Community drives coworking and Coworking Convos. Let your community hold you up.
4. Service mindset always: Service mindset is a no-fail antidote to imposter syndrome and doubt. When you feel yourself slipping, shift your focus away from you and onto the people you serve.
5. Practice active listening: This is a good life skill to have and to hone. I especially put it into practice during Convos, where I’m hosting, listening, taking notes for follow-up questions, capturing points I want to amplify and keeping the conversation moving along. The trick is to quiet my internal chatter, actively listen to the speakers and be fully in the moment. Easier said than done, but a good thing to aim for nonetheless.
6. Trust your guests: Coworking Convos guests, of which there have been over 100, are generous, fun-loving, thoughtful and knowledgeable. By design. We invite guests that are good at what they do, and fully understand the Coworking Convos vibe: community, informal, generous, connected, valuable. This isn’t hard to do in coworking. Because coworking people are the best people.
9. Getting the vibe right: Convos are informal, inclusive and, ideally, inspiring. We keep them as conversational as possible. This has been the vision from day one—in part because it helps me stay calm and grounded. And also because coworking is a friendly thing … not a formal and stuffy thing.
10. Relevancy: We aim to keep Coworking Convos as relevant as possible. What are coworking space operators talking about right now? What struggles are you wrestling with? What questions do you have? What tools are you using? We take all of this into consideration and shape Convos to be timely, interesting and hyper-relevant.
11. Diverse topics: Marketing coaching for coworking space operators is what drives Cat Johnson Co, primarily through the Lab, our workspace marketing club, but also through our content, social media, newsletter and Convos. We’ve designed Convos to stretch the boundaries of that by focusing on topics that strengthen your brand positioning and messaging, drive leads into your space, improve your conversions, promote member well-being, create healthier spaces, find the right teammates, help people find you etc. etc. etc. We’ll keep having conversations about important topics around marketing … and beyond.
12. Our Awesome Convos Partners: Way back when Convos was just an idea, I talked with Hector Kolonas from includedco, and Liz Elam and Stormy McBride from GCUC about what we were working on. They offered feedback, guidance, support and tough love. Now, 20 Convos in, these partnerships are baked into the DNA of Convos. I’m so proud to call these industry-leading organizations our Convos Partners and am humbled by their unwavering support. From co-hosting, guest recommendations and sponsorship introductions to monitoring the Zoom waiting room, making sure everyone is on mute, helping to set a fun tone, keeping me relatively calm and reminding me to take a group photo, our Partners—and dear friends—play a vital role in Convos.
Introducing PilotoMail: I’m absolutely thrilled to welcome into the Coworking Convos community PilotoMail, our brand new Partner. Co-founder and CEO Sofia Stolberg and the PilotoMail team are poised to be the go-to virtual mail solution in coworking. Workspace operators themselves, the PilotoMail team knows the opportunities and challenges of offering virtual mail in a coworking space and they are excited to share their knowledge and product with our community. Stay tuned for resources and events to help you launch, or level up, your virtual mail offerings and revenue.
13. Convos Sponsor love: Coworking Convos wouldn’t exist without our sponsors. There are a lot of moving parts behind the Convos scenes. The support of our sponsors allows us to dedicate time, bandwidth and resources to prep and power Convos and to steadily level up Convos events and our internal workflows.
Our sponsors are industry-leading platforms, products and services.
Our 2022 sponsor lineup, so far, is:
- Our longtime supporter and provider of super-flexible workspace management software, Satellite Deskworks.
- The wonderfully-inspiring Nook, which provides furniture with a purpose and is leading the conversation about creating neuro-inclusive workspaces.
- Our media sponsor, Allwork.space, which is a go-to publication for all things work, future of work and workspace related.
Please give our Partners and Sponsors some social media love, ask them questions, set up demos to see what they offer, and tell them we sent you. Doing so is a simple-yet-powerful way to support Convos.
👉 To become a Coworking Convos sponsor, message me on LinkedIn.
14. Teamwork makes the dream work: As I mentioned, there are a lot of moving parts behind a Convo, from event creation, guest communications, sponsor outreach, PR, promotion, scheduling, co-hosting, monitoring the chat and more. It definitely takes a team! I’m honored to have an extended team of people who help me keep the dream on-track. In particular, our Lab coach, Karina Patel; our administrative powerhouse, Amanda Leffew; and our tech masterminds, includedExperts.
15. Chat is vital to a thriving Convo: If you’ve been to a Convo, you know that the knowledge, tips and resources shared in the chat are gold. Jump in, join the conversation and buckle up because it moves fast.
16. Input please: Do you have ideas for Convos topics and guests? Do you know people and ideas that spark connection and can provide valuable information and tips for coworking space operators? Message me on LinkedIn. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
17. Convos Afterparty: When Clubhouse took off, we started hosting a Convos Afterparty with our friends at Spark Coworking to keep the conversation going and give people more ways to connect. As the Clubhouse shine faded and attendance dwindled, we put the Afterparty on pause. I’m considering re-upping it, but over on LinkedIn Audio or maybe Twitter Spaces. What do you think?
18: Convos Rebrand: It’s probably time for a rebrand. I’ve been leveling up the branding across my website and channels, and Convos is next up. Stay tuned for an updated Convos look later this year.
19: Rethinking our tech stack: We use Eventbrite and Zoom to run Convos. I’m happy with Zoom and think it serves our purpose well. I’m mixed about Eventbrite and wonder if it’s overkill? What do you think? LMK.
20: You are amazing: Yes you. If you’ve participated in a Coworking Convo, been a Convos guest, co-hosted Convos with me, given feedback on the format or topics, sponsored Convos, told a friend about Convos, you have helped make Coworking Convos a must-attend event for coworking space operators. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Without all of you, Convos would be a lonely place. Sharing our collective knowledge, skills and experience goes right to the heart of coworking.