If you know me, you know I love three things: working out, getting to know people (i.e. talking someone’s ear off), and enjoying a glass of wine.
For the first 5 years of my law career, I LOVED a good “networking” happy hour. I CRAVED that (typically “free”) glass of wine at the end of the day, diving into the freebie, snacks, and yakking it up with fellow comrades. Heck, in those first 5 years (pre-kids), those happy hours served as my dinners too. I didn’t care about the nutrition aspect, I just made sure to eat enough to get full.
In ALL of these situations, I would come home, be pooped, go right to bed OR come home and continue the party. These times weren’t always pretty people. I would stay up WAY too late, feel groggy the next morning, have no desire to workout in the morning, and drag all day. Productivity was DOWN and before you can say, well, at least you were networking and bringing in new business — was I??
The PURPOSE of networking is to get to know NEW people, build new relationships, reinforce old ones. To make quality connections. Why do we focus so many networking events on happy hours at the end of the day when we are already tired, stressed? After a glass (or two) of wine, are we really getting to KNOW people? Case in point: I have attended a certain local event dead sober the last three years for various reasons (trial-prep mode, Whole30, etc.) and WOW! When you are stone-cold sober and everyone else around you has had multiple cocktails . . . decent conversation? Ha. Nope.
Before you think wow, Wendy, you are boring! Trust me peeps, I still enjoy a glass of (really good) wine. However, I am changing the way I network . . . and am shifting from happy hour networking to “Sweatworking.”
What is sweatworking? SAME deal as networking, but you and a colleague or someone you get to know better skip the happy hour for
- a walk
- a hike
- a run
- a race
- a game of golf (I guess this old school one sticks. Double points if you walk the course. Bummer for me, driving the cart is the best part!)
- trying out a local class
Gone are the days that networking HAS to happen at 5PM! Why not strike up a conversation with someone at the 7AM (or even 6 AM hour?) Your mind will be clear. You will be forming a more meaningful bond. You will be killing 2 birds with one stone: you WILL get in your workout, you will strengthen a business relationship, you will leave feeling ENERGIZED and excited, instead of mentally depleted and zonked.
A colleague and I put this to the test the other day and met up for a hike. We talked business, we talked family, we talked life goals. The beauty about being outside at 6AM was that we had no distractions and could really dive into deep conversation interruption free – no annoying waiters, no buzz from glasses of cava, no end of the day stress we needed to deflate from – just some much needed high quality conversation that in turn will help BOTH our businesses. We may have gotten a little lost, but we ended up getting in 5 miles, an amazing glute workout, and started the day feeling refreshed, connected, and a little more at ease.
What about you? Are you ready to “sweatwork”? The next time someone invites you to a happy hour, I encourage you to ask them to go for a walk instead. Afterward, check in with yourself. Ask yourself how much better you feel. Then do it again.