MIAMI (CBSMiami) – When people think of networking, they probably think about client dinners, or meeting for drinks, but a new trend is on the rise that just might have you picking up gym shoes instead of those finger foods.
Like many people, consultant Julie Gilbert Newrai has a jam-packed schedule. Trying to balance her workload, fitness routine, and socializing with clients can be a challenge so, instead of hitting happy hour several times a week, Newrai hits the gym to do business.
“I invite people to come with me, that I’m thinking about for critical positions in my company, as a partner, as an investor, as a potential employee,” said Newrai.
This business meeting, also referred to as “sweatworking,” is a trend that’s catching on. Sweatworking is when clients or business associates are invited to a fitness class which can benefit their waist line and their bottom line.
“The lines between professional and personal are definitely blurring. Now clients and reps want to be friends with each other,” said Newrai.
Fitness fanatic Sarah Siciliano sweatworks as often as three times a week. She said compared to traditional networking, which often involves eating and drinking, this is friendlier on the waistline.
“This is a way to expend some calories and also I say, kill two birds with one stone. You know, it’s get your workout in, network, meet people, connect, and all for the sake of business,” said Siciliano.
Newrai pointed out that sweatworking is also a great way to create a personal connection.
“It’s like truth serum without having three martinis and spending 75 dollars in a bar,” said Newrai. “You really get the core essence of who that person is when you’re in that kind of intense environment. You understand what they’re made of.”
While sweatworking is often more popular among the younger business crowd, those in the fitness industry report the trend is growing.
“We have people of all ages, all shapes, and all sizes, and all backgrounds and demographics,” said gym manager Doug Melroe.
However, before you cancel your client dinner and head to the gym, there are a few things to keep in mind.
“When you’re physically in a class, you can’t be carrying on a conversation constantly because you’re trying to breathe and do what the instructor is telling you to do,” said Siciliano.
Networking expert Bonnie Ross-Parker said that the traditional setting offers some basic benefits that sweatworking does not.
“I’m big on body language. Body language in that in that setting is very different than body language in an athletic environment,” said Ross-Parker.
If you do decide to invite someone sweatworking, experts suggest you tell them what to expect: describe what the class is like, what to wear, and what to bring, like a towel and water.
“Make sure that they know it’s fun, and make it fun for them, so don’t put all of this like competitive pressure until you get into class of course,” said Newrai.
Whether you hit the gym or not, Ross-Parker suggested finding something in common with your clients, potential clients and co-workers to help build relationships that last.