This Business Trip: Expand Your Network
"This Business Trip" is a regular column that looks at how small changes can help you better optimize your travel time.
THE CHALLENGE: FINDING THE TIME TO BE PROACTIVE
The old saying was right.
The professional and business opportunities that come your way really do depend on both who you know and then the relationship that you have with them.
And while networking has always been important, the new world of work is making it an even more so.
In an uncertain market and one where contract, freelance, and self employment is increasingly becoming the norm, study after study confirms that we should all be building our relationships more authentically, strategically, and with greater diversity.
Currently, 70% of jobs are found through networking and 40% of job seekers say they found their dream job though a personal connection. Entrepreneurs who are well-connected to venture-capital networks are more likely to secure funding at every stage of their business.
The catch is that in the daily grind of just trying to get things done, actually finding the time to reach out to our broad networks can be incredibly difficult.
I know for me, anything that isn’t an immediate must-do generally gets moved off my list and that relationship outreach is often the one that is the first to go.
Thankfully, there’s business travel.
The escape from the normal work/family/life routines makes travel time the ideal space to catch up on it.
Practically, there’s also the bonus of being in a different city and being able to connect in person with local relationships.
I make it a habit to reach out to at least two people in my network in each city I am travelling to and book a quick breakfast or a coffee. Meeting in person really helps solidify professional connections that have been established online, says, Kathleen Kahlon, Owner, Chapter 2 Communications and mother to an 8-month-old daughter. "It doesn't take much time, but has tremendous impact in terms of business development and knowledge sharing."
Andy Lopata, an international speaker and author of three books on networking suggests using travel time not just to meet new contacts but to nurture existing networks.
“Pick up the phone to someone you haven't spoken to in ages (I like to scroll through my address book and find people randomly). Phoning to touch base with no other agenda has tremendous power. Reach out on LinkedIn; check those updates you normally delete. Look at Twitter and Facebook, scrolling through your network's updates for longer than you would otherwise and commenting where appropriate.”
- Book calls: I often find that when I get to my hotel I don’t feel like leaving my room. But booking in phone calls is a great option – especially if it means you can connect in time zones that don’t normally work for you.
- Ask For A Local Intro: You know that one friend who just seems to know someone in every city – ask them for a recommendation for someone local that they think you should connect with. Link it up with a recommendation for a great local hangout for a drink/dinner/yoga whatever makes it all more thing casual and authentic for you.
- Answer Emails: Not feeling either of the above? Use the disruption-free time to tackle that list of 'hello and how are you?' emails that you’ve been meaning to send.
- Make Time For Friends: Keep in mind that effective networking is actually not about how large or high powered your contacts are but how effective these relationships are in supporting and challenging you.
Reva Seth is a consultant, speaker, coach and the author of two non-fiction books. Most recent, "The MomShift: Women Share Their Stories of Career Success After Children" (Random House: February 2014) debuted and spent over two months as Chapters/Indigo best-seller.