5 tips to help freelancers get the most out of public work environments
As the freelance workforce keeps growing, so does the popularity of public work spaces. Of course there’s a big difference between an actual co-working space where you potentially pay a monthly fee or a coffee shop with good Wi-Fi that you’ve just decided to call home.
For the sake of simplicity we’ll treat them as one and the same in this article because as you’ll see, these pointers apply to both.
1. Dress to impress. Ok, not to impress, but just don’t look like you just rolled out of bed.
Whatever reason it was that made you decide not to work from home today, you’re going to have to commit to it. There’s no working in your jammies and dragging along Mister Fluffers the cat to keep your lap warm.
No one’s saying you have to put on your best suit but you may consider ironing a shirt. Just go business casual the way you would at the average office. Just keep in mind that you’re upholding a professional image and that you’re sitting among potential clients and colleagues.
2. Be in a good mood (or at least put on a happy face).
No one wants to talk to mister negativity sulking in the corner. When you’re up to your ears in deadlines and drowning in work, try to remind yourself that a lot of work is actually a good thing and plenty of others would love to be in your shoes. Trust me when I say I know it’s hard to crack a smile when you just received an earful from an angry client but your next great business connection may be sitting two tables away from you.
3. Be approachable.
You’re probably wondering how you can actually look more “approachable” besides possibly putting up a sign at your desk that says “open office hours between 2 and 4” which would look pretty weird in the average Starbucks.
We had the same issue and thought of a solution with Coffee Shop Freelancers. We decided we needed to let everyone around us know what we were about, without actually bothering them.
How about using the one thing that’s making you LESS approachable. That’s right, your laptop. It tends to work as a shield and block any incoming human contact before it even has a chance to occur.
We’ve designed professional marketing decals that allow you to broadcast your skillset to your direct environment. Not only that, but we’ve tailored the copywriting to be as inviting as possible to the people around you. You’re (through your laptop) literally asking people to come over and have a chat.
4. Always bring your business cards with you.
They’re not dated, they’re not dead and they actually are here to stay. Business cards are still the best way of exchanging contact information and serve as an awesome physical reminder of a meeting. Mails drown in mailboxes, LinkedIn names are forgotten but a little piece of cardboard gets the job done.
Make sure they’re well-designed though, as this will give a little preview of yourself and your attention to detail. Not saying you have to raise your business card game up to American Psycho levels but everyone loves a particularly sleek design.
5. Get to know the people around you.
When you walk into your co-working space or coffee shop, make sure to greet people you’ve seen before. This could mean nothing more than a smile and nod, but depending on your level of friendship just make sure to at least acknowledge the people around you.
If you’ve noticed certain regulars, ask them how it’s going and what they’re currently working on. Offer your help or advice if possible and try to build a relationship.
There’s hundreds of books written on networking and getting the most out of professional settings but a lot of it is fairly obvious. Just be nice. It’s as simple as that. Go out of your way to help people, follow-up your earlier conversation by perhaps doing some research on the subject or refer them to someone you know.