16. Tiffany Knight, Coworking Community & Space Manager at Workbar Boston
Episode 16 - Tiffany Knight
Guest: Tiffany Knight, Workbar Today's guest, Tiffany Knight, is Community & Space Manager at Workbar Boston. She gives us a glimpse of what it takes to make a strong community like Workbar thrive.
Tell us a little bit about your background. What was your path to becoming a community manager? Tiffany tells us that her background actually lies in photography. She ran her own business for over ten years, and still works in photography on the side. She also takes the opportunity to do a lot of photography for Workbar. She went back to school for marketing, and fell in love with the concept of coworking. Workbar has been Tiffany’s first foray into coworking, and it has been a great experience. Her role as community manager has been a bit different than that of a manager in an online community, because it’s a very personalized experience. She is the face of Workbar, so she has to be there and be at the top of her game all the time.
What’s a day in the life of Tiffany Knight like? Chaotic! Multitasking is one of Tiffany’s primary skills. Tiffany works hard to keep people caffeinated and connected. She troubleshoots IT, sets up audio-visual, and helps facilitate new networking opportunities. She enjoys learning more about community members- their hobbies, their projects, the names of their kids. That helps her guide them towards other members that they might enjoy meeting.
Would you describe being a community manager as an extrovert role? Tiffany says yes, she’d definitely describe managing a coworking community as a role for an extrovert. Even for a self-described extrovert, the combination of networking all day and then attending evening events can be exhausting.
What are your biggest challenges, as a community manager? Navigating the needs of individual members can be really tricky, because sometimes Tiffany has to make an executive call that not everyone agrees with.
What is your opinion on real estate ventures that want to start a coworking space without a designated community manager? How would you respond to someone who wanted to approach it that way? Tiffany tells us that it would be really difficult to make that work. As a community manager, she is in touch with every community member, and what’s going on at Workbar. People rely on her for a lot of information, and really enjoy the personalized experience that she helps create. She works with the members constantly, so she can’t imagine what it would be like to have a coworking space without a community manager. It takes a lot of work to create a curated coworking community.
If you were to advise someone who wanted to hire a community manager, what would you tell them to look for? You want someone with a good attitude, because they’ll be the face of your coworking space. They need a genuine smile, and a welcoming personality. The manager also needs to be able to multitask and follow up. Anyone in hospitality, customer service, marketing, or sales would be great. Skill as a tour guide would be a bonus! Tiffany tells us that she also exercises her marketing training, by helping prospective clients connect with events Workbar offers that mesh well with their industries.
What is the staff structure like at Workbar? Tiffany shares her role at Workbar’s largest, 13,000 square foot location with her counterpart, Ann. At the smaller, 4,000 square foot space in Boston, their colleague Cheryl runs the show. They also have an operations manager, Emily, who takes care of behind the scenes work and business challenges. Together, they help generate member events, manage social media outreach, and keep Workbar running smoothly.
What are some of your most successful member events? Workbar has launched a new series called Show and Tell that members seem to love. People share their travel pictures and their backgrounds. The theme changes each time, and the next event will be based on hidden talents. That was inspired by a member who presented Tiffany with a little red balloon poodle, out of nowhere! Members also seem to bond over food, so Workbar has had success with events such as chili cookoffs.
What is the mix between social activities and business development activities? Workbar does a lot of lunch and learns about business growth and software applications. It’s a great way to get people from outside of the community into the space. Many members attend, but it can be challenging to convince busy startup owners to congregate during the day, so Workbar balances the schedule with evening, business-oriented events as well. Overall, the split between social activities and business development activities is about 50/50.
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