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Digital Nomad 101: Coworking – 5 Reasons to Start Now

Coworking is here to stay, but it’s not just for digital nomads

I’ve attended many professional and networking events hosted in coworking spaces. It wasn’t until about a year ago that my eyes were truly opened through full immersion. Now, as an entrepreneur and small business owner and digital nomad, I realize how important this discovery was and will be for my own future, but also for the future of others like me. This website (that you’re reading now) is actually a prime example of the power of the coworking dynamic in action. More on that later.

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Collaboration is becoming one of the keys to long-term success and technology is changing by the minute. Coworking spaces serve not only as an incubator to new partnerships, but also as a main line to the pulse of ever changing technology, allowing those that take part in the spaces to benefit from all angles.

As a more traditional designer, specializing primarily in print, identity, and architectural signage and wayfinding, my strengths weren’t forged in the digital world. I was slowly becoming something of a dinosaur by allowing myself to get too comfortable in the “old ways” of business.

After months of merely being in a coworking space on a regular basis, I had a renewed understanding of the “new” way of doing business, and my digital chops were steadily sharpening.

Here are just a few of the reasons you need to get plugged into coworking if you haven’t yet.

What is networking you ask?
What is coworking you ask?

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Coworking offers “non-traditional” networking

Ahhh that word: networking. I can’t say it doesn’t make my skin crawl. I’m actually quite introverted, so the idea of the traditional “attend a stand-up event and hand out business cards” idea of networking ranks at the bottom of my list of things I prefer to inflict upon myself.

The interesting thing about coworking spaces is that the good ones have figured out how to do networking right.

Now, simply showing up and working in a coworking space on the regular will have you meeting new people in plenty of different areas of business. But the spaces that get it right have implemented robust calendars of events turning traditional networking on it’s head.

Mostly by utilizing Meetup and similar services, they’re creating opportunities for members (and soon-to-be members…) to learn about business by showcasing the breadth of knowledge within their members.

You can find coworking spaces hosting meetups on topics like building a web site, balancing your books, understanding new software, or protecting yourself from hackers.

Simply attending these events to learn all of a sudden puts you in an environment where you’re experiencing a new kind of networking.

coworking space
Most coworking spaces are wicked wired.

Technology is off the hook in most coworking spaces

So by introducing yourself to this new form of networking through learning inside a coworking space, you will have already taken huge steps in learning new technologies. In the first few months of my immersion, I was introduced to changes in collaboration through software like Slack and Quip. I learned about new project management tools like Active Collab and Trello. And I strengthened my understanding of new website-building software and played around with some of the early examples of virtual reality.

Many of these things are all key to staying on top of things not only for a small business owner, but also for an employee of any company that plans to stay on the forefront of the changing business environment.

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Collaboration

So at this point in your introduction to coworking you will have created new alliances through nontraditional networking and technology education. The next passive step that happens—by default—is collaboration. 

Now, this will eventually take the form of actual partnerships on projects or frying fish much larger than you may have been able to take on yourself.

That’s great, but let’s think smaller.

I mentioned that this website was essentially a product of my immersion into coworking. Again, digital was never my strong suit. But after attending a few meetups on Drupal and WordPress (both prominent open source website building platforms), asking a few questions here and there to the people I had become friends with while coworking, and simply bring privy to other people openly talking about the platforms and how to work in them or solve problems, I was stronger armed to embark upon building this site.

The majority of work was done personally, but when I ran into a roadblock, it was merely a matter of picking someone’s brain for a few minutes on the fix.

Why or why not to use certain plugins or what security to use? Just do the research, narrow the choices, then pick a brain to confirm the right direction to go in and implement.

Now, understand that this isn’t selfish, it’s actually reciprocal. During all of this time others had been picking my brain about my areas of specialty like identity development, branding, signage, etc., and I was happy to afford them the same benefits of collaboration. Win-win for everyone.

A lot of coworking spaces offer business services

Beyond merely collaborating, there are also obvious opportunities for acquiring new business as well as patronizing other businesses. Some examples that are very prominent in coworking spaces are bookkeeping, investment, law, insurance, and creative services.

Nobody wants to be “sold” on why they should work with someone or their company. But by being around someone on a regular basis and learning about their offerings or way of doing business, trust is built.

This trust naturally turns into conversations about how each could work for the other in a true business, pay-for-service relationship. If you’re in the creative industry, you know this is worth the cost of admission!

Free coffee
Most coworking spaces offer free coffee!

Free coffee for the win

So if you haven’t seen the light yet, this one should do it. Most coworking spaces in the US run about $100-150/mo for unlimited access to the facilities. That includes wifi, community desk or office space, essential power hookups, etc. Most spaces also have premium offerings like devoted office space, meeting rooms, podcast studios, and so on.

But most importantly, the best coworking spaces include all of the free caffeine you can ingest.

So there you go. If you’ve been on the fence about looking into this beast called cowork, it’s time you do yourself a favor and hit up Mr. Google and find some in your area. They’ll be more than happy to show you around the space and likely give you a day pass, either cheap or free, just so you can get your toes wet.

Check out Meetup to see if they have free events to attend, and start your way down the road of a new component to the way business is getting done in our changing business landscape. 

Happy Coworking!
-Jason

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The beginner traveler's guide to going nomad book by Jason A. Robinson

Tough Love, Tips & Strategies To Help You Finally Kick-Start Your Travel Life…Or Go Full Nomad!

Been wondering how the hell all those digital nomads, location independent travelers, and remote workers, travel “full-time?” Maybe you’ve thought about living that life one day, but you’re really not sure where to start.

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