Naked NetworkingPosted in : HR Updates on 2 February 2023 Issues covered: Networking; Wellbeing
Networking is thought to be an essential business tool to build professional relationships, but have you ever heard of “naked networking”?
Well, until recently I never knew such a practice existed until I heard it on the radio on my way to work. Naked networking is a phenomenon popular in Finland which is a perfectly acceptable way to establish meaningful, diplomatic relationships in a sauna environment. Such a practice is used not only for relaxing, but also for entertaining contacts. A so-called diplomatic sauna society has been set up in London in the Finnish Embassy. Sauna diplomacy is all about building trust and forging friendships and is a very old form of Finnish hospitality enabling an open and transparent atmosphere with frank and honest conversations. With everyone in the sauna not being fully dressed, this creates an equal playing field where people forget roles and titles as opposed to being suited and booted in a corporate boardroom. Being partially clothed, at least in a sauna suddenly means that no one can rely on how they look and the persona they are trying to achieve. Another advantage of sauna diplomacy is that it allows people to connect with people without the distraction of technology. The interesting thing about this practice is that no one feels uncomfortable sitting close together in a room with not very many clothes on. Despite it being perceived as intimate by some, the Finnish sauna society regard this as an almost sacred, unsexual space for everyone. Having been in place in the Washington Embassy for some years, diplomats have made many successful networks there too.
With business networking often being regarded as pretentious involving rooms filled with alter egos bragging about how successful they are, perhaps we need to consider something alternative and more authentic. A sauna may be a step too far for most, but it certainly opens up possibilities in terms of creating an open, down-to-earth environment where people can be genuine. Are you brave enough to start the trend?This article is correct at 02/02/2023
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