By Mike Brown
So what are other viable no-cost meeting space options for work at home professionals?
Yesterday, my colleague and I wound up meeting at a secondary food court in a mall for a change in venue. It was open, quiet, and very pleasant.
Our great meeting experience at the mall prompted this top ten list of informal meeting spaces. All are low or no-cost, low-traffic, easily accessible, and typically smell free.
1. Hotel Lobbies
Lobbies, especially for convention-oriented hotels, are great for finding open meeting areas. They work well for extended meetings since you do not look conspicuous as freeloaders amid the routine convention traffic.
Library card holders can generally get access to community and study rooms with whiteboards and doors you can close for some privacy.
3. Self-Serve Restaurants at Off Hours
Check self-serve restaurants with good Wi-Fi as prime locations for off hours meetings. With a self-serve place, you can typically linger longer since wait staff aren’t trying to move you along. Increasingly, grocery stores are an option in this category.
Lobbies, restaurants, and galleries inside museums can all be strong creative meeting space options. An annual membership may get you free parking, food and beverage discounts, and access to a dedicated meeting room.
5. Multi-tenant office building lobbies
Major office buildings often have plenty of accessible room in the lobby that works for informal meet and greets. If this is a route you want to go, scout the location ahead of time to see how it will work before booking a meeting.
6. Convention centers
A metro convention center generally features a variety of readily available small lobbies and gathering areas if the venue is open and not completely filled with conventioneers.
If you can get past the pesky parking issues, universities offer multiple meeting spots, including lobbies, restaurants, conference facilities, and dedicated meeting rooms.
8. Outdoor spaces
This option obviously depends on where you are, but who didn’t want to go have class outside in school? It’s still a decent option for grown-up business meetings.
9. Friends with Offices
Not exactly “friends with benefits,” but friends with offices might let you use them for an occasional meeting, perhaps with a trade-out for something you can do for them in return.
10. Presentation Rooms after Presentations
Presentation meeting rooms are often booked longer than the presentation to allow for clean-up time. If you’re at an event, check with the meeting organizer to see if you can have an informal meeting immediately after a session is over.
Where else do work at home professionals find alternative meeting spaces?
I’d love to add your ideas to the list. Where do you find great meeting spaces that don’t make you smell like a Starbucks three hours later?
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I've also had some good luck with meeting like-minded people in airports. You don't have to be getting on a plane to utilize the restaurants and sitting areas outside security. Plus, I love observing all of the different kinds of people that walk through airports. It attracts one of the most diverse crowds around.
Great suggestions. I'd add when traveling, look on Meetup.com or Google Maps in the city you are visiting. There are lots of co-working groups across the country. You may also find a co-working group already active in your hometown. They're popping up all across the country these days. If not, consider starting your own.