Traveling on a regular basis for business can be overwhelming at times, but one upside is that it actually provides you with the perfect way to meet potential customers. After all, every airport is filled with solo travelers, and there are always a few people more than happy to discuss random topics with the people around them.
Do you remember the movie, The Accidental Tourist? The main character made an art form out of avoiding any contact with his fellow passengers – and this was way before the days of Ipads, SmartPhones, and lap top computers. These days you have to make more of an effort to engage someone in conversation; but when you do, it lightens up their attitudes and you both can have a much more enjoyable trip where time goes by in the blink of an eye.
Put the Personal Touch Back into Your Travels
You should always be prepared to share information about your business with your fellow travelers. Even if most of the people you meet are not in a position to use your company’s products or services, it will still help you fill the time and hone your presentation skills for future clients—and you just never know when those listeners might end up sending referrals your way. Here are four easy ways to reconnect and network with fellow travelers:
1. Strike Up a Conversation – Don’t just stare out the window, try to engage a little. The simple act of initiating a conversation with the person who is sitting next to you is one of the best ways to network while you are traveling. Therefore, whether you are on an airplane or sitting at the hotel bar, you should take steps to engage your fellow travelers in the art of conversation. During your discussion, you are likely to be given the opportunity to discuss what you do for a living, and this will make it easy to share information about your business and learn about theirs in an informal and relaxed setting.
2. Pass Out Your Business Cards – You should never leave home without a stack of business cards in your pocket. Keep in mind that most people are in their most focused state of mind when they are traveling. This means that they are much less likely to remember to look into your company when they get home, if you do not give them something tangible to take with them. Additionally, to take full advantage, you’ll want to have attractive and informative business cards which truly reflect your company in the best light.
3. Work on PowerPoint Presentations – Sitting on a plane for an extended period of time is boring, so it is always a good idea to bring your laptop with you so that you can keep working. As an added bonus, if you are working on an eye-catching PowerPoint presentation, you are almost certainly going to capture the attention of the other travelers around you. This will give you a good springboard for talking about your company, and it can also help you meet influential people in a wide variety of industries.
4. Ask People for Their Input – Traveling can be a lonely prospect, and if you look around you’ll notice that people seem to isolate themselves – which might be for a variety of reasons; fatigue, confusion, sorrow. But rarely will travelers back away from a conversation if you seem genuinely interested in talking to them.
If you have already engaged another traveler through communication or the visuals on your laptop screen, it is a good idea to go a step further by asking for their input. After all, everyone likes to make their opinion known, and this will give you a good opportunity to test out new marketing materials such as brochures and postcards as well as concepts.
Taking the opportunity to network with other travelers will enable you to enhance the value of each trip. As an added bonus, you will have the opportunity to personally connect with people from a diverse list of cultures and industries, and this can provide you with several positive benefits for the professional and personal aspects of your life.
Author Annette Madison is a small business consultant who loves to engage in conversation while traveling on trains and planes. One of her favorite ways to save on printing costs is to order online with companies like www.bluebeeprinting.com, and she always makes certain to have plenty of eye catching business cards along for the ride.
Photo credits: http://www.flickr.com/photos/15216811@N06/6813692337/, http://www.flickr.com/photos/hoges25/4100785588/, http://www.flickr.com/photos/dyobmit/101646784/