Many of us have had to adapt our working practices during the pandemic lockdowns, adopting technology as our only form of communication. While many of those online meetings will revert to “face to face” again when it’s all over, a lot of us won’t want to entirely give up the changes to how we have had to work.
Our own Laura Day has developed one working practice that she will definitely take into the future – ‘Netwalking’. Using the new, audio-only Clubhouse app, she has developed a new, informal networking group where participants are encouraged to go for a walk in their local countryside, or park, at the same time as networking via their phones.
We asked Laura to explain what Netwalking is, why she set it up, and why she is going to continue doing it:
“At the end of last year, I’d started a new job, moved to a new area and had some other changes in my life. I didn’t know anyone locally and there were real restrictions on opportunities to make new friends. Rather than sitting at home for days at a time on my own and waiting to become irritable and moody I decided to go for walks. However, I was looking for a social angle too, so I jumped on Facebook Live because it made me feel connected to other people, especially if they commented.
I also realised that at work I was spending a considerable amount of the day in online meetings and definitely suffering a little from what has now become known as ‘Zoom Fatigue’. Part of the problem of being online all day is that you sit for such long periods of time. So, I decided to switch things around a bit and go back to good old-fashioned phone calls, which I could make while walking in my local woods.
I began by organising a walk and talk phone call with someone I knew from BNI. As we walked, the ideas started to stream and we were far more productive than we would have been if we’d just had a Zoom meeting. It’s so much more insightful to have one-to-one time with someone on the phone when you’re outside with nature or in different surroundings. My experience was that my whole mindset changed, resulting in a happier and much more positive approach. On top of this, I walked nearly 9,000 steps while on that one phone call!
After that, I began to have more walking meetings. When you’re on the phone and talking to people you are really able to connect with them, I’ve developed some really good relationships with clients this way.
One of my walking meetings was with Derek Granger of GovGrant. He’d seen my post on LinkedIn about ‘walk and talk’ and organised one for us. We got on so well that we scheduled them on a fortnightly basis. After that, we decided it would be good to open them up for other people to join in and that’s when we came across the new Clubhouse app.
Clubhouse is an audio-only platform that allows you to connect with like-minded people. There are lots of curated conversations happening in ‘rooms’ which you can either just listen to, like listening to a podcast, or join in with. You can invite people to join your conversations, but others can drop in too, so you never know where it’ll go.
We have committed ourselves to hosting weekly business Netwalking sessions every Thursday between 12.30 and 1.30. The group is still relatively new, but we’ve already had people from all over the world popping in, and we’ve had some very interesting conversations. It works brilliantly for me, and I’ve even persuaded a couple of my new colleagues to have walking one to ones with me, which has helped me develop better relationships with them. Walking as you talk on the phone enables people to find out more about you as a person and learn what makes you tick.
“Not only was it great in just getting out for your mental health, but we also had a lot of really interesting things to speak about and potential things that we can collaborate on.” – Derek Granger
Over Christmas, I advertised my Netwalking sessions on my out of office message, telling people if they wanted to get financially fit in the new year, they could arrange a walk and talk one to one with me. I added my Calendly link so they could book something there and then – and four people did!
Netwalking and walking phone meetings are things I feel passionate about and have wanted to do for a while. They’ve helped me stay social and active, while also combating any threat of loneliness and isolation during the pandemic. Importantly, they have helped me to build some really good business relationships. The best thing is that it doesn’t matter if nobody turns up – I like walking so it’ll never be time wasted.
Want to walk?
If you’d like to join our weekly Netwalking on Clubhouse, get in touch with me for details. Unfortunately, at the moment, Clubhouse is only available on iPhone, though I believe it will soon be available on Android. If you’re already a Clubhouse member, follow me @LauraDay and join the conversation every Thursday lunchtime.
Hope to netwalk with you soon!
“Laura’s had a really big impact on me because I’m now going out and walking a lot more, in between meetings or in between sessions. I’ve found that my productivity is going through the roof, and I’m getting some fantastic ideas when I’m out walking.” – Stephen Arthur, CEO, Solutions Basecamp
“What a great end to the week 😀 I just had a #walkandtalk meeting with Laura Day. Such a great way to get some fresh air and exercise whilst #networking. Like many, I’m starting to get Zoom fatigue, so when Laura suggested this, I jumped at the opportunity! 🌳 Great for your #mentalhealth and #wellbeing as well. 👍” – James Capell-Abra, Mental Health First Aid Instructor