The ULI conference offered plenty of organized opportunities to network with other
industry professionals, but one of the best was the SweatWorking event.
SweatWorking is business networking while exercising (breaking a sweat). This
event came in the form of a 6:30 am 3-mile run around the National Mall.
It was a fairly informal event. There were no race numbers, water stations or pre-
set course. People slowly gathered near the Washington Monument and made
comfortable chitchat in pre-dawn darkness. The small group steadily grew to about
50 runners. The event organizer explained we were going to jog as a group and
make stops at the different monuments along a route he had verbally outlined.
While many of the networking discussions during the formal ULI sessions started
with “what one did professionally” the Sweatworking discussions were more
organic. They started with “where do you like to run” or “are you training for an
upcoming 5k ?”
This run had intentional interruptions built in– such as stopping for a red light or
for pictures at a monument which worked to ‘reshuffle the deck.” It was a natural
way to end up next to someone different and start a conversation with someone
new. Running alongside the Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool I struck up a
conversation with someone else who happened to be from Seattle. As we talked, we
discovered our families had connections from previous decades. He also had a
fascinating position involving work that I was interested in learning more about, but
there wasn’t time for that in this quick morning run.
One of the challenges with SweatWorking is not having a business cards in your
shoe to exchange. It’s not easy remembering the name, businesses and contact
information for someone you might want to reconnect with later.
We worked our way from the Reflection Pool and up the steps of the Lincoln
Memorial. My new acquaintance was carrying his phone and asked if I could take
his photo in front of Lincoln, which I agreed to do. He then asked if I’d like my
photo taken too. I agreed—but didn’t run with a phone or camera. I asked him to
take one of me on his phone and we’d find a way to connect later. This was a
moment where LinkedIn came to the rescue. We not only connected later that
afternoon through LinkedIn, but agreed to meet up soon once we were back in
While I definitely made many great connections over the multiple day conference,
some of the ones I made while SweatWorking might prove to be the most fruitful in
terms of future sweat equity.