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A breath of fresh air…

How to take your networking outside

We’ve all been to networking meetings which are a little… awkward. I attended one where I was told to ‘Sit Down’ because I and the person that I was talking to were apparently taking too long chatting after we’d made our tea. Erm, surely the point of a networking event is to chat?

I really like the structure that comes with a BNI meeting, where you’re free to float around and chat before and after the formal meeting. Plus, the one that I attended has great food where you’re encouraged to take home any leftovers. The venue even provides take-away boxes, if I stash a couple of cupcakes then that wins me Mum of the Year award at school pick-up. I’m equally open to other events with different formats.

I recently attended a LinkedIn Local event at the gorgeous Wychwood Park Golf Club. It was great to meet people that I’d already connected with digitally in the real world. The canapes were delicious with lots of vegetarian options, and there was a bar in the corner too! As I met new people I connected with them at the same time on LinkedIn. (This event is what made me realise that I needed to update my profile photo as my hair had changed completely, and I didn’t look like myself).

Taking the concept of networking to a whole different level is Rob Edwards founder of Netwalks and LifeCycle Coaching. We met for a quick coffee at Miola, a gorgeous interior design shop with café, and then proceeded to walk 5.5 miles (which burns 550 calories if you’re interested). Rob set up this unique way of networking with the intention of getting people out of the office, away from screens and into fresh air. The aim is to help make new contacts, share new ideas and gain some fresh perspectives. To encourage clear thinking and give new ideas and new contacts the air and space to grow and flourish.

Fortunately the rain held off and we walked along the Saltway line, through fields and along the canal. During the walk people moved naturally into different smaller groups. In addition to talking about our businesses I was involved in diverse conversations including topics like mental health, education in the UK and Europe, first world problems that we’re lucky to have, the importance of poetry, recruitment challenges, problems with baking round cakes, and could you long-jump over a lock?

What sets this networking event apart is the camaraderie and laughter that resulted from our shared endeavour. We walked to the actual tweets and chirps of birds, rather than notification beeps on twitter. The impact of walking in nature cannot be under-estimated, there was definitely forest-bathing going on at one point too. If you get the opportunity to attend a Netwalk, please do take part as it’s a brilliant experience that will inject a little bit of nature, a lot of laughs (not guaranteed, unless you’re walking with me), new contacts and a sense of wellbeing into your normal business day.

Originally published at virtualtimeangel.co.uk

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