By Steven D'Souza
It might seem an odd subject to write about travelling and networking but today’s business owner probably spends dozens of days a year if not several days a month travelling. If we are not quite ‘road warriors’ we spend time commuting between meetings, collecting air miles, waiting on train platforms or packing our toiletries into small plastic bags while we try our patience in air line queues. Travel is as much a part of business life as tax returns, and often as painful.
Over the last few months I have spent a lot of time in travel working across Europe, the US and Asia. Spending so much time in transit has given me a different perspective on networking. Speaking to people while delayed on the runway has led to free use of a creative studio for a team meeting, a job connection with HRH Prince Charles’ International Ambassador, learning about politics in Turkey, and a lovely afternoon with company at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Below are some tips to make the most of networking while travelling:
1. Think of travelling as an excellent context which will enable you to find something in common with anybody. Almost everyone is willing to talk about their journey and where they have been or are going to. Notice the situational details that allow you to open a conversation and don’t be afraid to say ‘hello’. Often I find simply asking someone an open question can lead to the whole row in the plane or train getting engaged in a conversation!
2. If you are on Facebook or LinkedIn- update your profile of where you are going to and when you arrive. If you are able to do so you may even do this a little before you go. By updating my profile I had an old friend contact me in New York that I hadn’t seen for 10 years and had not even thought to contact and we re-established a good connection. Social networks help also to make sure that you stay connected with friends and family- an essential for living life ‘up in the air’ while working away on business.
3. Be available for connection. Wearing your iPod headphones can be interpreted as an indirect statement ‘leave me alone’. If you are travelling make sure that you help people make it easy to connect with you. I recently sat on a plane and said ‘hi’ to the person next to me. She mentioned nobody had ever spoken to her on a plane before and we ended up in a great conversation for the rest of the flight and finding a lot of mutual business interests.
4. Do your research. Often if you know you are travelling and you do a web search beforehand you will find that there are many interesting groups or events that provide excellent opportunities to meet people in a new city. There are also on-line networks that allow you to find out who is travelling in your city or staying at your hotel.
5. When you travel ensure you add who you meet to your contacts and networking database. Even though connections made in travel can be short due to their transitory nature, people often end up sharing and talking about deep topics and make moving connections with ‘strangers’ that they might have had only with very close friends. Make sure you add your travel contacts to ‘LinkedIn’ and follow up.
I hope that this short article encourages a different perspective on travel and networking and that you make many valuable moving connections .
This article is written by Steven D’Souza author of the bestselling book ‘Brilliant Networking’ featured in the Independent’s ‘Success at Work’ series and recommended by the Telegraph and the Times. To connect with Steven visit www.brilliantnetworking.net
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