I have always enjoyed meeting new people. But I can’t say I have always enjoyed networking. And it’s quite clear that I am not alone in this.

After speaking to a subset of my closest friends who I would describe as ‘naturally confident’, we managed to get the format of a typical professional networking event down onto paper and it was a relief to see how common our experiences were.

 

Step one usually involves turning up alone to an event to represent your company. There’s a reason you always get handed a drink on entry and I would advise any newbie networker to take it. It helps to look busy with your glass of wine or water.

Next begins the awkward rotation around the room as you try to figure out who you might have something in common with. This is quite a dangerous game, and I warn you now, it has the potential to end very badly. The girl you thought would share your love of yoga and baking, actually just adores her job as a tax advisor. At this stage, you should accept your night is over.

If you do manage to escape, there’s the process of trying to break into an already flowing conversation. It’s usually best done with an awkward smile and a quick shuffle into the circle. You pretend you are invisible and no one has noticed but actually everyone is wondering why you have just interrupted a great conversation, so the pressure is on to pipe up with an interesting comment.

Just to intimidate you a bit further, people are usually dressed in their most serious corporate attire, ready for battle, and there is nearly always too much alcohol and too little food. The best networkers know when to leave whereas the rest of us struggle to ever get the balance right.

If you have over-indulged, the next day is inevitably always a bit of a struggle, productivity dips and you are left with a handful of business cards that join the organised but useless collection in your top draw.

 

Since leaving The City, I have been doing my best to convince companies that there is a better way to connect their teams and employees. And so far, we haven’t been wrong.

 

I believe networking should translate to ‘Not Working’. It should be enjoyable, and it shouldn’t feel like a chore. The aim is to form natural friendships, not forced ones.

 

We believe company fitness sessions have the power to break down barriers and hierarchy both internally and with other organisations. It firstly helps that everybody is out of their protective armour. This means it’s difficult to tell who is who, so being junior or senior no longer matters – You are all struggling through that same set of squats! Approaching someone in your company, who you been struggling to reach, suddenly doesn’t seem so daunting either. Fitness has a powerful way of reminding us, that we are all only human. Focusing on your own physical achievements can be a very humbling experience.

You also immediately have something in common with everyone in the room. Whether you consider yourself an athlete or a beginner, you have a shared experience, which provides an instant and more natural talking point.

 

We believe the old fashioned 9-5 is dead, it is time to enjoy a much more fun and dynamic age!

 

We were approached by one company very recently who wanted to host a company meeting with a difference, as there was a very clear internal problem. They noted that interaction was poor, and that team morale was low. Their weekly team meetings took place on Tuesday morning, so we organised an energising outdoor bootcamp for 45 minutes at the start of the day. The CEO reported increased engagement, a ‘happier’ internal team environment following the session, and increased participation in the meeting from employees who wouldn’t normally speak up.

We also help companies to network with people outside of their organisation and in September we will be hosting our first #Sweatworking event, for business leaders, HR professionals and anyone who works for a company that would like to make working-out a part of their working week. Because people that sweat together, work better together right?

We want people to experience our approach, so we will be hosting a series of morning workouts throughout the year. There will be a chance for networking, meeting new people & companies, and most importantly we hope that fitness helps to power you through your day. We will be asking participants to let us know how their day goes after the session.

Was your day more productive following the workout? Does fitness make you feel more energised & empowered? Were you able to form new connections at the event?

In our company surveys the answer to these three questions is always a resounding yes.

 

‘I felt terrible after my workout’ said no one, ever.

 

To find out more, or register for an upcoming event, email us on companyfitness@motivatept.co.uk