AN award-winning outdoor author and broadcaster is using his skills to lead a different form of business networking – netwalking.

Mark Reid, the author of 16 walking guides, will take groups of business people on walking trips to meet new contacts.

He came up with the idea while walking on the hills with friends.

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Mr Reid, who features in a monthly walk on ITV and writes a column for The Northern Echo, plans to initially take people out on the walks in the countryside once a month, but if it proves successful he may extend it to as many as one a week.

He said: “More and more business people are turning to networking as a cost-effective way of developing new business relationships, “I am in a business network group myself, and twice a year I go away with a group of friends. We are all business people in different fields – it includes a solicitor and a web designer.

“On the last one we did in May, we realised we were unconciously giving each other tips, pointers and leads for business while we talked.

The idea came from that.

“We were talking about people we know – it wasn’t deliberate business networking, it just happened.”

Mr Reid believes his idea has benefits over normal networking events, both for business and health.

He said: “You have uninterrupted time to talk. If you go to a business meeting, there are things going on, such as telephones ringing.

“Out walking, there are hills and scenery – it clears your mind and makes you feel good.”

Mr Reid, who already runs teambuilding walks for companies, believes his idea may be a first for this country.

He said: “There is netwalking in the US, but in the States they do it as a power walk in the morning. I am the first to do a full morning hill walking.”

Mr Reid, a fully qualified walking guide, already has eight people signed up to his first netwalking event on Wednesday, July 30.

The walkers will meet at a Yorkshire Dales pub for breakfast, where they will be briefed on how to get the most out of the day, before spending the morning exploring Upper Wharfedale, in the Yorkshire Dales. They will then finish back at the pub for lunch.

Mr Reid added: “If there is the demand from people, I can put the walks on in County Durham and Teesdale.

“I pick areas with stunning landscapes.

“There are hills, but we are not going up pikes or anything.

Anyone with a basic level of fitness will be fine.”

Mr Reid’s 16 walking guides cover the Yorkshire Dales, Peak District, North Yorks Moors and Lake District.

He also appears once a month on ITV Yorkshire’s Calendar programme, where he shares a walk around the region with ITV weatherman Jon Mitchell.

For further details of the walks, visit teamwalking.co.uk