Attend All Optional Social Events
Networking to build new connections is essential when traveling. Whether you strike up conversation in the airport or at your hotel, taking the time to talk to people is key to opening the door to a relationship that may turn out to be mutually beneficial. That’s why it’s so important to take advantage of any networking opportunities that are presented to you as a part of the event you’re attending. Most conferences will have a happy hour aimed at giving people a chance to get to know each other. So instead of using this time to check your email or get in a quick nap, attend all of them! At the very least you’ll come away knowing a few people that are attending the same conference, which may lead to a buddy to save you a seat at the next jam packed session.
Find Local Industry Gatherings
Do some research before traveling to figure out which kinds of industry-specific groups and organizations meet regularly in the area and then plan on dropping in. Most meetups happen in the evening after work, which means you should be able to fit one or more into your schedule after you’ve completed your work or conference for the day. This is an excellent way to connect with likeminded people in different areas across the country to expand your professional network, which can pay dividends when you’re looking to hire or collaborate.
Meet with Local Clients or Partners
Go through your customer records to see if there are any current or past customers doing business near where you’ll be traveling (or along the route that you’ll be taking if you’re driving). An in-person meeting can go a long way in retaining or reacquiring accounts. Just be sure that you give them enough notice so that it doesn’t feel like you’re dropping in unexpectedly. Bringing branded merchandise or a gift with you will ensure that they’ll remember your visit.
Live Blog or Post on Social Media while Traveling
Tell your followers where you’re going and why. People love seeing the “behind the scenes” type stuff that brands post on social media because it humanizes them and gives followers a sense of what it takes to run the business. Take pictures and be likable as you post about your journey, and don’t forget to relate it back to your business’ purpose. (In other words, make it less about the sweet hotel room you have and more about the types of things you’re learning at your conference and how excited you are to share the new insight you’re gaining with your customers.)
Make it Rain Business Cards
Bring a TALL stack of business cards and don’t be afraid to hand them out. People expect you to give them a way to follow up and the worst thing you can do is be the guy who has to jot down his business name and email address on a cocktail napkin. Have plenty made up ahead of time so that you can give one to anyone that you talk to one-on-one.
Kate Pierce is the owner of LionShark Digital Marketing LLC, a West Michigan internet marketing company. Her areas of expertise include Paid Search, Search Engine Optimization, Business Blogging and Web Copywriting. She lives in the Grand Rapids area with her husband and son and enjoys cooking, watching sports, and spending time together as a family. Like a true digital marketing expert (i.e. geek), she loves talking about current marketing trends… so don’t say you weren’t warned!