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Hiking With Kids - A Lesson in Networking

A couple of months ago I took my two young boys for a hike in Sydney; part of the historic Great North Walk trail from Sydney to Newcastle. We stopped about half way along the track and had a sandwich for lunch and as we finished eating, another Dad and his son came hiking along the trail.

His son looked a very similar age to my boys and it wasn’t long before the kids started chatting. It was amazing to watch how quickly and easily they became friends and how much they learned about each other in such a short space of time.

They asked question after question until they found out common interests. Do you like Pokémon? Do you like Mario? Do you play piano? Do you play soccer? By the end of an hour of hiking together, they were quite good friends and were asking for a play date.

After witnessing this, it occurred to me that these skills could also be applied to networking in business. How often have you found yourself at a networking event struggling to make small talk or initiating conversations. Next time, remember the Hiking with Kids lesson and just keep asking questions until you unlock some common interests. You can even prepare a list of potential interests beforehand to get you started such as:

  1. Did you watch the football on the weekend?

  2. Have you seen such and such TV show?

  3. Have you travelled anywhere exciting recently?

It's all kind of commonsense but sometimes us adults find it a bit harder to break the ice than the kids. During the hike I ended up having a good chat with the Dad as well but it took us a lot longer to get started than the kids. It also didn’t help that he was a Sydney FC fan while I’m a devoted Mariner.  

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