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I’m completely evangelical about Fresh Walks. It’s networking and hiking all rolled into one. The walks are mainly in the Peak District, but we also venture further afield – to places like Delamere Forest, Formby and West Kirby.

Fresh Walks is the perfect activity for me. I love to be out in the countryside and I love walking. I also absolutely adore getting to know people and having deep and meaningful conversations. There is nothing I find more fulfilling.

I think the combination of being in inspiring surroundings and having to concentrate on the activity of walking, releases people from the normal awkwardness that they might feel at a traditional networking event. It enables Fresh Walkers to have some really high quality conversations.

And in terms of the value I get out of it – it operates on a lot of different levels for me:

1) I’m getting exercise and inspiration and lots of endorphins from going on a long walk in beautiful countryside. I always come back absolutely buzzing (if a little bedraggled and tired…)
2) I receive an abundance of positive and helpful support from people who understand my world.  Which is a lifeline as freelance life can be pretty lonely.
3) I have gained business from Fresh Walks, but what’s been more important is developing a really lovely and useful group of contacts. These contacts are based on friendship and trust – which is the best way to build a business community.
4) Photography mentoring. There’s a couple of photographers in the group –John Shinnock and Jill Jennings who’ve been very encouraging to me on my photography journey. I also been lucky enough to assist them on shoots.
5) And, saving the best til last, I’ve made some fantastic friends!

What’s your relationship like with networking?  Is it something you dread? Do you force yourself to go anyway as a necessary evil?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

If you enjoyed reading this, you might like to read Things I Wish I’d Known Before Starting a Freelance Business.

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