Many people think of the health and fitness benefits of running. Or the personal satisfaction that comes with completing a race, a challenging training run or setting a new personal record. But most people don’t realize that running with others offers a great opportunity to network professionally. Mention running or a race at work and you’ll be surprised how many people are doing the same thing. Running, in fact, is a great way to extend your professional network while also doing something that is fun, healthy and lends itself to connecting with others. Runners come from all walks of life and running related events often give you the opportunity to meet people who are motivated and successful at what they do. Think of the sport itself - running any distance requires hard work, dedication and commitment. These are qualities often found with people who are goal oriented and successful professionally. While running with others, you can skip those awkward moments during professional events when you meet people and don’t know what to say. Instead - you can talk about your family, hobbies, goals for a race or anything else you are interested in. In fact, running in silence between conversations is also very acceptable. Before you know it, you’ll have established a relationship with someone who can become a useful contact professionally. So, to take advantage of something that is healthy and good for you, here are a few tips for expanding your professional network while running:
Team building activities:
Encouraging a group of people from work to participate in a local race can be a great team building activity. It builds camaraderie and gives people a chance to interact in a non-work setting. Participants can be of any fitness level - from a walker looking to participate in something healthy to a speedster looking to set a new personal record. You can still have team building events with them, whether it is a “training” runs in a local park, going out to eat as a group where you hand out team shirts, posing for a team picture before the event or giving out awards/finisher certificates in a group setting afterwards. And as the organizer of the activity, you are showing management you have skills that can be important in more senior roles - being a team player (team building, team leader) and taking the initiative.
Join a local running club:
Running clubs are very common in many areas and often have organized group runs and races you can participate in as a team. They will also connect you with training partners at your level that you can run at your own pace with. Clubs attract members from all walks of life and companies. Participating in club activities gives you a relaxed, casual environment to establish relationships with people you would otherwise never have met.
Raise money for a charity:
If there is a charity that means something special to you - chances are they would be happy to support you in raising money by completing a race. While raising money tap into your network at work and on social media. Not only would you be raising money for a great cause, but you will be getting very positive attention from your network and senior management. It shows you are willing to work hard at a goal to complete a race and raise money for a worthy charity. Fund raising also gives you a chance to interact with people you might not normally have a chance to talk to.Not interested in running a race? Charity Miles is an app that you can download to track your neighborhood jogs or weekend hikes turning these into fund raising activities for a charity of your choice (from over 50 they have relationships with).There are a number of charities which provide resources and assistance for runners who raise money for them. These include:•The Leukemia Society Team In Training raises money to cure cancer. They offer coaches and team training events for runners who raise money for them. Like a local running club, these activities give you the opportunity to connect with other runners who may have similar professional interests as you.•Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s Fred’s Team has a very large fund raising team that participates in the NY Marathon, London Marathon, Berlin Marathon and other races. For tips and advice on how to raise money for your charity, check out these articles: oHow Do I Raise Money for Charity While Training for a Race? - Womensrunning.como12 Fund raising Tips for Charity Runners - Verywellfit.com
There’s a reason why LinkedIn stops showing the number of connections you have when you reach 500. Its about the quality of the connections you have, not the number. Whats important is you establish a relationship with someone and continue to interact with them over time. People often make the mistake that they must do professional networking through professional events. But these can be awkward and require you find a way to break the ice with total strangers. This can be difficult, even for someone who is outgoing and has a well planned pitch or introduction.Health and fitness, on the other hand, is an activity many people are interested in and spend time on. Planned properly, running can be a great opportunity to build meaningful relationships with other people, It also shows qualities to your management that can be important in your career: •Team building•Leadership and initiative•By raising money for a charity - caring for people less fortunate than you.