Networking Your Way to An Early Death?

Networking Your Way to An Early Death?

Networking is an inevitable part of our careers nowadays. It’s a very valuable part too – mostly. I have written elsewhere about how to network your way to a healthy life: that is, how to use the principals of networking and apply to healthy food and lifestyle choices.

But networking in itself isn’t that healthy. During the past couple of months I’ve attending a lot of networking functions: breakfasts, coffee catch-ups, cocktail evenings and lunches – many, many lunches. And while it is possible to network your way to a healthy life, it’s also possible to network your way to an unhealthy one.

Where are the networking healthy eating options?

Case one: a networking breakfast where participants were required to pre-order their selection. Nothing was even REMOTELY healthy. There was, however, a place to make special dietary requests. While I’m pretty sure the request was intended more for things such as “gluten free” and “lactose intolerant” I actually requested “some kind of healthy option? Fruit?”. When I arrived I was instructed to just select whatever I liked from the cake cupboard. I went for the choc chip hazelnut biscuit. At least I would be getting some omega3!

Case two: a semi-regular lunch event I attend at the same upmarket CBD hotel. The meals are always a bit the same – a small serving of protein, a small serving of vegetables (eg three asparagus spears) and a LARGE serving of potatoes and white bread. I don’t like potatoes and I’m not a huge fan of white bread either. So on my last visit I requested “No potatoes please. Could I either have sweet potato or just extra green vegetables?” The request was ignored so I ate the potatoes (I was hungry!). But apart from my potato issues, the almost tiniest serving of protein imaginable and a serving of vegetables that resembled a garnish? Networking lunches are not helping my healthy life!

Case three: for some reason I thought this event would be different. Admittedly there was a form to make special dietary requests but, because the whole organization had a different “vibe” to some of the others, I didn’t bother filling it in. “These are all high-exec professional women, surely the menu couldn’t be that unhealthy?” I thought. Yes and no. Certainly they didn’t serve alcohol, something I didn’t actually notice until I went home. Whilst alcohol can be a good social lubricant, it is just empty calories. So a big tick besides this group for that. However, the morning tea option was just cakes and pastries!!! Balance that tick with a big cross.

I could go on, but I won’t. You get the idea. You know what I’m talking about if you’ve been to any of these events. One of the biggest (perceived) issues for most people in terms of making healthy choices is a lack of time. When someone else is preparing the meal for us, this isn’t an issue. When attending a networking lunch then means that I either have to starve (because of a lack of options) or spend an extra hour at the gym that week (because of a plethora of unhealthy options) it’s easy to see why networking events have left a somewhat sour taste in my mouth.

But we are all networking our way to an early death! Being a fitter and healthier version of ourselves is good for our careers, as well as our lives. Come on networking groups, lift your game! I’m not the only one in the room who is, or who needs to be, concerned about their health. Networking groups should be here to help, not hinder. Take up the challenge!