Do you enjoy business networking? Do you also love the sights, sounds and smells of the great outdoors? Well, it sounds as though you might enjoy ‘netwalking’ – a way of combining the two activities whilst also cocking a snook at the coronavirus. Tim Lee of Collaborate MK met up with Andrew Metcalfe, Matthew Hoddinott and Jill Taylor of Thenetwalk.life. The four of them discussed the joys of netwalking:
Here we are on this gorgeous day in Stony Stratford. We have met up in the great outdoors to chat about the networking phenomenon of netwalking. Collaborate MK and Thenetwalk.life have formed a strong partnership.
We know there are different forms of networking. Andrew – tell us about netwalking. What’s it all about?
AM: It’s essentially networking outdoors. Taking the opportunity to be mindful of our outdoor surroundings. Being outdoors encourages you to be more creative. You’re away from your desk, in fresh surroundings, taking in the scenery and having conversations with your fellow business owners. It’s incredibly stimulating.
MH: I agree 100%. The idea came to fruition whilst doing long distance walks a few years ago. We never seemed to run out of conversation. With Thenetwalk.life, it’s just the same. By talking things through, we’re celebrating each other’s successes and helping solve our problems. We have this great variety of people, from all walks of life, coming up against the same issues, but we each have a different perspective on how to resolve them.
We set out together on a Monday morning, and that inspires us for the week. We then arrive back at the office enlivened and ready to tackle the week. We feel more creative and find it’s great for our mental wellbeing. We then meet up again on a Friday afternoon when we celebrate the week and usually end up in a local pub! As well as this, we are now providing netwalks midweek, in various locations.
AM: From a creative perspective, when you’re sitting at your desk, sometimes you lose that ability to think outside the box. So, it’s nice to get out into the open. It’s amazing how it gets the creative juices flowing. You come at issues from an original, creative angle.
JT: I agree completely. It’s now in my diary to go for a walk once or twice a week, it’s a commitment to my business. And it’s really lovely to have that support from fellow netwalkers. You chat amongst yourselves and ask each other, ‘How’s it going?’ You soon discover that we’re all in the same boat and that we can all offer advice and help to one another.
I work primarily in the events industry, and most of my networking for the past 20 plus years has been in London. But last year, with COVID, I couldn’t do that. And I really missed those connections. Then I found out about netwalking. Now, this is my community. I can network with businesses that are on my doorstep.
How does netwalking actually work?
MH: We start on the first Tuesday of each month with a webinar on a specific topic, which is hosted by Thefuturethinkers.life, a sister brand to Thenetwalk.life. This kick-starts the conversation. It could be the future of retirement, employment, mental wellness, the state of the high street. For each of these topics, every single one of us has a view. We carry that conversation on throughout the month, often inviting panelists from the webinar to join us.
AM: The conversation topic is just the starting point. Inevitably, we find that the conversations overlap. For example, we discover that retirement has a correlation with financial planning and with employment. All separate topics in their own right, yet all intertwining in one way or another.
So, are there other specific conversation topic that keep cropping up?
MH: Of course, at the moment, COVID comes up most often. We started off these walks in June last year when COVID was at its height. We had to wait for the restrictions to be lifted before we could meet on a Monday morning. It’s the variety of netwalkers that makes the activity so rewarding. We have businesspeople from such diverse backgrounds, and all with a different take on the topics we’re discussing.
So, where do you see the future? Where’s the next step?
AM: Thenetwalk.life is only a part of The Dot Life’s supportive community and is the perfect franchise model. We’ve looked into this very carefully and see enormous potential. The world is our oyster.
Find out more at Thenetwalk.life Find out more about Collaborate MK at www.CollaborateMK.co.uk or email tim@CollaborateMK.co.uk