How Yoga Will Make Me (and You) a Better Business Networker
A few weeks ago a Groupon popped up in my email offering 30 days of unlimited yoga for $65 at the yoga studio which is literally a 4 minute walk from where I live. I’ve been meaning to try it out, so this was a “no more excuses” moment and I bought the Groupon. My mentality with these things is to go in full force and really get my monies worth. I should be really clear, I’m a true beginner at this and pretty terrible but I do my best and I am up for the challenge.
My intended goals for diving into these yoga classes was injury prevention when doing other high impact sports. I’m not as young as I used to be and tend to be prone to muscle injuries that put me on the sidelines during the summer when I most want to be playing outdoors. An interesting thing has happened while taking these classes that has caused a priority switch in my goals. When I’m not obsessively trying to get the most bang for my buck at a yoga studio (that seems like such a non-yoga thing to say) I run very focused business networking groups where my primary goal is to accelerate relationships between professionals so they can build relationships of trust as the first step towards sharing advice, lead generation, referrals and forming strategic partnerships. What I’ve discovered is the common thread between yoga and business networking comes down to two words: relationships and awareness. Now, my primary goal is to make myself a better networker and to try to help all the participants in my groups also be better networkers.
Relationships and Awareness
In all the yoga classes I’ve attended a common theme is mindfulness. What this means to me is to be “in the moment,” to only focus on what is going on within yourself at that moment in time. We are told to focus on our breathing and focus on the particular posture we are trying to do at that moment and how the posture feels. This might seem like an extremely self-centered way of thinking, which many people may think is the opposite of business networking. One of my take-aways is by being more self aware one can more honestly assess how they present to others. This skill also helps one assess how others perceive your actions, your honesty and your respect for others. Networking is all about building relationships of trust. Yoga helps us better understand ourselves and respects the understanding of others. A perfect skill set for business networking.
At the end of each class the instructor says “Namaste,” and the class says it back to the instructor and to all participants. Namaste means “I bow to you.” It is an acknowledgment of the soul in one by the soul in another. This couldn’t be more opposite than being self-centered. It is the ultimate sign of respect. It is a great way to end a class. I’ve actually been tempted to end a business networking group that way, but it’s too weird. To be a better networker practice mindfulness and be in the moment with whomever you are building a relationship of trust with. Listen without agenda when someone is talking to you. Be self-aware regarding how you come across. Bow to others and respect who they are. And breathe. Take these lessons to heart and you’ll be a more effective business networker and maybe you won’t pull a muscle at your next networking event.
Jonathan Rosen is Founder of Collaberex www.collaberex.com which forms and facilitates business development groups in the NY Metro Area.