Forget stuffy conferences, cocktail parties and coffee dates.
When it comes to meeting and mingling with career contacts these days, be prepared to show up in your gym attire for a little “sweatworking”—the trendy practice of connecting with clients and coworkers over a workout.
To get the lowdown on why this concept is gaining momentum now, we called up career coach Jenn DeWall, MBA, who spent a decade working at Fortune 100 companies before launching her own business.
She takes us through the ins and outs of this new way to network—and explains why it could be your next great career move.
These days everyone is more mindful of optimizing their time, DeWall explains, and sweatworking helps professionals tackle two important to-dos at once—advancing their careers and keeping fit.
But the trend is more than just clever time management. It can also nurture more meaningful connections—something many crave in our overstimulated culture.
“At times, networking events can leave you feeling less connected because you’re feeling ‘sold’ to,” DeWall explains. “But physical activity creates a shared experience that helps build trust and likability early on in a relationship.”
How to Make It Work for You
While sweatworking is particularly suited for people in such client-facing roles as sales and public relations, DeWall insists that employees in any field can use fitness classes to create team bonds with colleagues, or form relationships with potential mentors.
Plus, if you’re the type who isn’t a fan of more formal networking, a group workout can be an ideal way to gain confidence.
“Sweatworking can alleviate the nervousness that networking newbies often have,” DeWall says. “You can use the activity as a start-up for conversation—reducing the stress and anxiety that come with meeting someone new.”
To get a session going, research what opportunities your company gym might have on tap. L.A. Fitness, for example, now offers free passes for corporate members to use with clients, as well as classes that cater to businesses.
If you’re a freelancer, DeWall recommends searching Eventbrite.com for organized meetups in your area. And look into local business organizations too. Levo League, for instance, coordinates many group sweatworking opportunities geared toward professional women.
Most important? Keep it low-key—and have a good time. After all, it’s about taking the stiffness out of networking.
“Sweatworking is the professional equivalent of an outdoor kickball or volleyball league,” DeWall says. “It’s about people coming together for a fun, challenging experience they can bond over.”
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