I am acknowledged as a fearless networker and I am privileged to be able to travel across the world to facilitate presentations on career management and a lot more. I also take advantage of each visit to network and often organize networking events for my global clients and connections.
However, a recent visit to Zurich kind of caught me off guard. . .and with my pants down! Literally.
Having travelled the world many times, I am highly sensitive to cultural values. I am knowledgeable in the subtle differences of how diverse cultures introduce themselves, their business processes and their ethics. I am familiar with the perception of nudity in different countries and know that some continents are far more open to accepting nudity than others. In Europe, being naked in select settings is totally acceptable, whereas, in the same settings in North America and other continents, this action is frowned upon.
During a recent trip to Zurich, I stayed in the same hotel as the flight crew of the airline I fly with frequently. This hotel had an extensive spa with all the facilities and services you can imagine. During my stay, I took advantage of the sauna.
Hailing originally from the UK, where nudity in spas and on beaches is acceptable, can you picture how I entered the sauna? It was hot and steamed up. I couldn’t see much. From my right, I heard a woman’s voice above me saying, “Oh hi. How are you?” I was somewhat taken aback by this greeting. Nevertheless, I shifted myself over to the right and sat down to chat with this woman who was in the same state of dress as I was.
Still catching my breath, and somewhat puzzled as to how somebody on a different continent might know me, despite my fierce networking, I asked, “How do you know me?” She confidently stated that she worked for my favourite airline and saw me on the Toronto-London route numerous times.
She asked, “Do you fly frequently?” I replied, “Yes, and to London very often.” My state of mind changed, my heart rate lowered, and I entered into dialogue with this person. Naturally, she was curious to know why I travelled that route so frequently. I stated that I have an office in London and many clients there, which triggered further questions about my business.
Keeping my poise, and eyes focused on the conversation, I responded with my brief one-minute elevator pitch. She then informed me that her husband had recently been terminated from his job and was struggling with his job search. She believed his resume needed some attention and asked if I could help him. This was an intriguing and unusual way for business development to occur.
Go forward one week and her husband and I entered into a business agreement. He now has a resume that is generating numerous interviews. Plus, he is being coached on how to plan and execute an ambitious job search.
Another four weeks later and I was, again, returning to London from Toronto. I entered the plane for my flight and the flight attendants were waiting to greet me and direct me to my seat. Who should be there at the door of the aircraft but this same woman! I called out her name and said how pleased I was to meet her again, but that I didn’t recognize her in her uniform! The fact that she was married triggered laughter with her peers and caused an immediate blush. She then had to inform her peers where and how we had met. Say no more!
This, to me, was a very unusual opportunity to network. But it just goes to show that wherever you are in the world, networking works. Even naked networking. Make it work for you.
What is your most unusual networking story?