How to be more approachable when working in public

How to be more approachable when working in public

And making the most of it when it finally does happen!

As a freelancer or professional busy person, it’s generally a good idea to go out once in a while and work amongst actual other human beings.

Sure, maybe you do talk to your cactus and spend way too much time on Facebook chat, but it’s just not the same as real human interaction.

You know, the kind where you have to move your face muscles to show a degree of animation. Remember the time you did this ‘;-S’ in real life? Yeah, neither do I.

Let’s say you do go out to a public place and try to get some work done.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could actually do the one thing you can’t do while sitting at home? Interact!

No, ordering your latte mocha Frappuccino doesn’t count as a conversation.

Let’s look at some ways to be more approachable and connect to new people.
If you’re wondering why you’d want to be bothered while working, there’s multiple reasons.

First of all, networking is honestly never a bad thing. Not every person that approaches you is going to turn into a paying customer, but they could turn into someone that refers you to a paying customer.
Or even better, you make a new friend over a mutual professional interest.

Second, let’s say you get nothing out of it. Someone comes to you to ask for free professional advice. Ugh, don’t we all hate giving away freebies?

Well, the glass is half full. In a public environment, others will actually see you being a nice person.
Online or in your office you’re just doing stuff for free. Here, it’s more like community service.

It goes on your ‘co-working résumé’.

How can you ‘look’ approachable?

Get rid of the oversized headset.
Or at least don’t have it on all the time. A little bit of background noise honestly isn’t going to kill you.
Alternatively, consider bringing earbuds and leave one bud hanging out (you know like the cool kids used to do).

Approaching someone who actively decided to shut themselves off from all sound is a very intimidating thing.

Look happy.

Turn that frown upside down! If you’re going full grumpy cat, you probably should have stayed home.
Let’s say I passed by your screen and saw you working on the exact same thing I was.

If you’ve been sighing and grimacing all day, I probably wouldn’t approach you, no matter how mutually beneficial it could be.

Just try to be neutral at the very least.

Show people what you do

This actual issue is what lead us to create the Coffee Shop Freelancers laptop stickers.
We’ve actually seen people in real life that made a cardboard sign that said “Please come talk to me about my startup”, going as far as buying a coffee for people who did.

Isn’t this the whole reason people co-work? To complement and supplement each other’s skillset or at the very least have a casual conversation about our projects.

We hope to help eliminate this communicative barrier with our decals and see an uptick in people actually talking to each other.

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Houston, we have contact

But what do you do when someone actually approaches you?

Have a sales pitch ready! Not everyone knows what a UX designer or a PR specialist does.

Make sure you can explain your activities and skills in clear and concise terms.

After your sales pitch, the best thing is to show these new connections your actual work.

No matter what the profession, everyone needs a centralized portfolio and I’m not talking about those scattered ‘New Folder 1, New folder 1-New’ files on your desktop.

Animators need showreels, photographers need portfolios, writers need excerpts and PR specialists need testimonials and case studies.

We’ll go into more depth on the best way of presenting your past projects in a future post but for now, make sure you reach that point!


If you’ve got any advice on how you got other people talking to you, share it in the comments below! Who knows, you may be approached digitally.

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Founder of Coffee Shop Freelancers. Completely and utterly obsessed with everything web. Has nightmares about Tron becoming reality.

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