How to create partnerships with local businesses as a coworking operator

Learn how to identify, establish, and maintain successful business partnerships for your coworking space.
By Kelly K
August 22, 2023
Photo of business partners - creating partnerships with local businesses

As a coworking operator, strategic partnerships with local businesses are your secret weapon.

They can help you differentiate your space, grow your community, and provide increased value to your members. So how do you go about creating something really special?

In this article, we’ll dive into coworking partnerships from the initial steps of identification and engagement to the art of negotiation and lasting relationships.

At the end of this article, you’ll be well equipped with the insights you need to foster meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships.

What is a coworking partnership?

A coworking partnership refers to a collaborative arrangement between a coworking space and an external business or organization. 

In this type of partnership, the coworking space owner collaborates with other businesses to provide added value, benefits, and services to the members of the coworking community. 

This could be in the form of a discount, a shared event, content collaboration, service offerings, and more.

Benefits of collaborating with local businesses

Benefits of collaborating with local businesses as a coworking operator

Collaborating with local businesses can lead to an array of benefits that enhance your space’s offerings, reputation, and member engagement. 

Enriched member experience

Establishing effective partnerships allows coworking spaces to provide a more comprehensive and value-added experience to their members. 

Let’s say you create a partnership with a popular boutique yoga studio in the neighborhood that gives your members 15% off a monthly membership. Now, you’re supporting your community in ways that extend beyond the four walls of your coworking space. 

By offering access to a range of local services, resources, and events, you can differentiate your coworking space and enhance member satisfaction long-term.

Community engagement

Collaborations with local businesses create opportunities for unique community-building initiatives. Joint events, workshops, and networking sessions with local entrepreneurs can foster a sense of belonging, encourage interactions, and promote a vibrant coworking community.

You could pair up with a local art or paint-and-sip studio to hold a networking event, exclusive to your coworking community.

Plus, offering discounts can offer interesting and unique incentives to keep members engaged with your brand and what you have to offer.

Expanding brand visibility

Partnering with local businesses opens up avenues for cross-promotion. Your coworking space can tap into the existing customer base of your partners, increasing your visibility and attracting potential members who align with your space’s values and offerings.

If you have a partnership with a local cafe, you could offer to hang an advertisement for their business in your building in exchange for them doing the same. It’s a great simple marketing idea to support your coworking space.

Generating additional revenue streams

Collaborations can lead to new revenue streams through profit-sharing arrangements or referral fees. For instance, partnering with a local cafe for on-site catering could provide you with a percentage of sales generated from coworking members.

Examples of coworking partnerships

Retail store partnerning with a coworking space business

When a coworking space partners with another business, it typically benefits both the coworking space and the partner businesses. Here are a few examples of what a mutually beneficial coworking partnership with other businesses might entail:

Retail and food partnerships: collaborating with nearby cafes, restaurants, or retail stores to offer exclusive discounts to their members is typically the most popular kind of partnership we see. They are typically the easiest to set up and are well received, as everyone enjoys a good meal!

Service providers: you might choose to partner with service providers such as accounting firms, legal services, marketing agencies, or IT support companies to offer specialized services to your members at discounted rates. This is popular in niche coworking spaces like co-warehousing, where specific services may be offered at a discounted rate.

Health and wellness: partnering with fitness centers, yoga studios, wellness coaches, or mental health professionals is another popular tactic we see from coworking spaces. It is an excellent way to support the physical and mental well-being of your members, and can even be used to foster community outside of the coworking space by organizing group yoga or spin classes.

Event collaborations: partnering with local businesses, event organizers, or industry associations can result in joint workshops, seminars, networking sessions, and events in your coworking space. These collaborations can attract a broader audience and provide additional learning and networking opportunities for your members.

Corporate partnerships: larger corporations might partner with coworking spaces to offer flexible workspace options for their remote or traveling employees. These partnerships are growing in popularity in the post-pandemic era. It can be one of the more challenging partnerships to set up, but can also be the most fruitful. 

To attract members to their space, Fabiana Valienta from WorkSpots set up exclusive partnerships with vendors such as Office Depot, Best Buy, Enterprise, Teachable, and more to provide exclusive discounts for their members and their businesses. 

“What’s brought us success is thinking outside the box and creating a whole new experience. As far as coworking spaces go, we’re one of the only companies that does things the way we do it. It’s a bit different, but it’s worked very well for us.”
Fabiana Valiente, WorkSpots

This greatly increased the value of being a member of Workspots, and was the catalyst for attracting clients to their coworking space. WorkSpots grew to over 120 locations in less than a year, thanks to their innovative partnership approach.

Learn more about how Fabiana used partnerships to accelerate growth at WorkSpots.

How to create partnerships with local businesses 

If you’re a new coworking owner or operator, you may be wondering how to go about creating partnerships with local businesses. Follow this step-by-step guide to begin developing some new and fruitful partnerships.

1. Determine the goal of your partnership

Determining the goal of your partnership provides a clear sense of purpose. It crystallizes the mutual aspirations shared between you and the business you’re partnering with, aligning everyone towards a common objective. 

Examples of goals could be:

  • Acquire new members
  • Increase brand visibility
  • Amplify existing community engagement

Of course, it is possible to have more than one partnership goal. A precisely defined goal however will enable you to tailor your initial partnership strategy with precision. Do you want to acquire new members? Look at a corporate partnership with a local remote company.

Are you more interested in community engagement? Consider a partnership centered around joint events and workshops that will benefit your community. 

2. Research and identify complementary local businesses

Effective partnerships are built on synergy. Research local businesses that offer products or services that align with your members’ needs or enhance their coworking experience. 

For example, if your members are predominantly freelancers and startups, partnering with local technology providers, legal firms, or creative agencies could be valuable. Investigate the reputation, quality, and relevance of potential partners to ensure a harmonious fit.

You can research businesses online via their Google Business Profile or search on social media for businesses in your region. You may also choose to survey your members to see if they have any businesses they would like to see a partnership with. That way, you’ll be sure the partnership will provide them with value.

You may also choose to tap into your existing network to see if anyone you know owns a local business or has connection to an organization that may be interested in a creative partnership.

3. Engage in networking

Engage in networking to create coworking partnerships

Once you determine who you would like to establish a partnership with, you’ll want to do some networking. This may look like attending local business events, networking sessions, and community gatherings to establish connections with potential partners. 

Engaging in face-to-face interactions can help you build rapport and establish a foundation for collaboration, while making your presence known. You’ll find it easier to establish relationships with businesses if the community is familiar with who you are and what you do already. 

4. Craft a compelling pitch

Developing a well-crafted pitch and being clear on what it is you’re asking for and how it will benefit the business you’re pitching to is crucial. You’ll want to clearly articulate how the collaboration can add value to their business, such as: 

  • Increased exposure and brand visibility
  • Access to a diverse community
  • Cost savings through possible mutual discounts 
  • Support for their community and customers

It’s helpful for organizations to know exactly what they’ll be expected to offer and exactly what you can offer in return. Of course, the level of detail you’ll need here will depend on who it is you’re looking to build a partnership with. 

For example, if you’re pitching to a local cafe, then a simple meet-up and rough outline of a partnership agreement may be okay, whereas if you’re pitching to an enterprise organization, a deeper level of formality would be required. 

5. Building and nurturing the partnership

After you pitch your partnership and agree to the set terms, you’ll be off to the races! Now it’s time to nurture the relationship to ensure success for all parties. 

Regularly assess the outcomes and impact of the partnership. Monitor key metrics, gather feedback from members and partners, and make adjustments as needed to optimize the collaboration. 

Nurture the relationship with your local partners through ongoing communication and engagement. Regularly update them on your coworking space’s activities, events, and opportunities for collaboration. Remember, it is a partnership after all, and you want to ensure everyone is benefiting as they should!

Enabling partnerships with Optix

Enabling partnerships with Optix through the Perks app for coworking members

Do you already have some wonderful partnerships and exclusive discounts in place for your members? If you’re an Optix user, you’re able to showcase member benefits to your users and make them easy to redeem via the Perks app.

The Perks app is a native Optix application that can be installed via your admin dashboard. It makes it easier for you to manage and showcase all of the promos and benefits you’re offering to your community by showcasing them on your member’s mobile device.

You can also use the Perks app to determine which perks your users like the most, and to keep all discounts and promotions organized in one space.

It’s a great way to highlight the wonderful partnerships you’re creating in the community, while making it easier for your members to take advantage of them.

Learn more about the Perks app in Optix.

Getting started with partnerships

Building partnerships with local businesses can lead to exciting possibilities. By working together, you can make your coworking space even better and offer more to your members. 

Remember, it’s all about finding businesses that fit well with what you do and help each other grow. 

With clear communication, shared goals, and a willingness to collaborate, you can create partnerships that benefit everyone involved – from your coworking space to the local businesses and the community as a whole. 

So, take these steps, reach out, and start creating those meaningful connections today!

Want to learn more about getting started with your coworking business? Here are 30 questions to ask yourself before starting a coworking space.