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Sweatworking: When Networking Gets Physical

What happens when you combine fitness with business? According to The New York Times, it's called "sweatworking." It's a unique situation when win-loss is a good thing: Win more business while losing more inches.

More than Just Business Connections
When Matt Fenton, president of Pittsburgh-based Oxford Solutions, suggested the idea of meeting with business associates at the gym, Bruce Nelson knew he had found a solution. Nelson, president of Vertical Solutions, also based in Pittsburgh, had been looking for a way to combine his interest in fitness with building business connections.

Since Western Pennsylvania is not the ideal location for year-round golf, most networking focuses on coffee, food and sitting for local companies. Nelson explained, "I work out three or four days a week and was looking for a way to incorporate that into meeting other business executives to learn more about them and what they do."

An additional benefit to meeting at the gym is getting a deeper insight into a person's character that talking over coffee isn't likely to reveal. "You can find out a lot about a person by working out with them," Nelson noted. "Do they show up? Do they commit or are they looking for excuses? Does that person push the extra few steps? It gives you a better feel for whether this is a person you trust with referrals...what they are really about."

Endless Possibilities
The possibilities for sweatworking are endless -- from spinning to yoga to workout routines. Fenton and Nelson's workout includes four people split into two teams. They set a course of routines and each team completes the exercises with a little friendly competition thrown in. Workouts can be tailored to skill levels appropriate for the participants. The end game is to give people an opportunity to get to know each other in a fun and active environment.  

There is no reason to limit sweatworking to outside networking.  As waistlines expand, what a great way to give employees an opportunity to get out of their chairs during the day. Combine team-building and fitness for a healthier work environment.

If you are tired of the standard coffee talk, try starting up a sweatworking group. There are bound to be lots of other businesspeople in your area looking for a better way to network.

Have you found a creative way to connect with other business people? Add a comment below or send me a note and let's share the knowledge.

Posted by Barb Levisay on March 01, 2012