The GWA Coworking Conference is coming to Miami Beach on 11 - 13 September this year. It's a packed agenda for the flexible office community of users and providers to connect, collaborate, or many just relax by the poolside.
At this year's event, you will meet the people investing in the flexible office industry and the organizations predicted to drive the next generation of spaces. We spoke to Jamie Russo, executive director at GWA, to find out more about the event:
What can attendees expect from this year's GWA?
In my experience, the biggest benefits of attending a conference are the connections you make. You must put yourself out there to be exposed to new ideas and opportunities. Reading blogs and participating in social media is one thing. But you're much less likely to find the next strategic focus for your business, an investor or a solution to your biggest business challenges online.
You find them through connections with people. Community is a core value for most of us in the industry. Communities develop and strengthen with in-person interactions at conferences.
And what benefits does the GWA bring to its attendees?
I would say the highlights are: exclusive access to our full Flexible Office Industry report, access to business growth resources, member forums, a listing on our workspace search site and a discount to our annual conference.
This year's event is focusing on investors in your self-proclaimed "meet the money" topic - why did you choose this theme?
The topic is broader than investors - it will dig into a variety of ways to capitalize a shared workspace. The sources of capital are growing as the industry quickly evolves. Lenders are "getting" our industry better than ever before, private equity is looking for good operators to acquire, asset owners are looking for operating partners and companies like Staples and Verizon are looking for operating partners. We want to make sure our attendees are in the loop on how these relationships work.
Aside from the amazing beaches, why do you host the event at Miami Beach?
I consider the amazing beaches to be a positive challenge - how do we keep people in sessions while competing with a premium spot right on the boardwalk? Miami is coming into its own as an entrepreneurial hub and along with that, is home to dozens of flexible workspaces.
What are you most looking forward to on this year's agenda?
Besides the Bootcamp class at the onsite Spartan gym? I think our main-stage sessions are all very timely and help operators think about positioning for success in our quickly evolving industry. This year, we're hosting highly-facilitated break-out sessions after each main-stage session to give people the opportunity to really dig into the aspect of the topic that's meaningful to them. This is also an opportunity for attendees to connect with each other and those conversations that lead to those serendipitous opportunities.
What makes this event different from other such events for the flexible working sector?
As an association, we sit at the intersection of the broader landscape of flexible office. Our annual conference brings together voices from across the flexible office landscape, including coworking, serviced office, corporate workplace leaders, architects, building owners and service providers.
What's your most memorable experience from previous GWA events?
This is a tough one. We put a lot of effort into developing a meaningful agenda. But a lot of the magic comes from the chance to connect and build relationships.
This industry is probably unique in that people in it have a real passion for the work they do. The fact that the industry is grounded in collaboration among members of spaces translates to owners of spaces. It's a willing-to-share group. So, to some extent, know what you want to get out of the conference to evolve your business, ask for it, and you'll get it.
I would also say the conference is probably the most fun conference I've ever been to. When people love their work and have strong relationships with their peers, that tends to translate into people bringing some personality to the table. It's my favorite event of the year, hands down.
What advice would you give to someone attending GWA for the first time?
Send me an email and I'll make sure you meet at least five people at the conference that will impact your business and your life.