If you love the idea of working from the same office five days a week and enjoy your once-a-year vacation, that’s great. This article isn’t for you.
If, however, you consider the world-wide-train-and-flight-connection-web to be your office, you’ll want to keep reading.
I built my business on the fly. Literally, I built it on flights, on trains, in hostels and hotels, in foreign cities, and at conferences. Every time I pack my backpack, inspiration jumps out at me, hugging me like an old friend.
Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about networking and building relationships while traveling, and that’s what I’m going to share with you.
Take the Leap. Buy The Ticket.
I needed an escape from traditional nine-to-five so much, I booked myself on an around-the-world ticket and came up with my business.
Much to the terror of my mom, I went traveling single. As a woman.
Frankly, I’d never given much thought or worries to that fact. I’d been a woman for all my life, and, most importantly, I knew that traveling with little plans or itineraries would bring me inspiration, business ideas, and straight business.
But, when traveling single, you can only go so long without social interactions. Naturally, you start to make friends as you travel. Friends turn into business partners, clients, and collaborators.
Building a business is about building relationships the right way. And by the right way, I mean in a genuine, generous way — a way that’s aligned with who you are at your core.
Have you ever made a to-do list for your business that was full of oughta-dos and should-dos? I should sign-up for Clubhouse, I oughta create this social media strategy, I should join this networking business group? Have you ever had fellow entrepreneurs from a totally different industry tell you those oughta-dos and should-dos?
If so, you’re not alone. Let me ask you a question: have any of these oughta-dos ever yielded results or, dare I ask, fulfillment? A new client, business partner, discount, etc.?
For me, they’ve resulted in money, time, energy wasted, and sleep deprivation.
Meanwhile, my great-grandfather was a captain of the sea, traveling around the world. Similarly, traveling is at the core of my identity.
As I travel, I do so with a backpack, and create wonderful moments wandering into a five-star hotel, like the time I entered “Hotel Sacher” in Salzburg with and bought one of their famous pies, Sacher Torte. As I do, I carry my heart on my tongue, and, you guessed it, make connections.
Traveling and going to conferences that are driven by the arts and innovation is my muse. That’s where I don’t have to put on a mask or pretend I’m someone I’m not. It’s also where I make the best connections. I’ve gained invitations to festivals and workshops in South Africa, Kenya, and North America simply from being me.
Now, being yourself in business isn’t the easiest. Humans are conditioned to mimic others – a trait that’s much contributed to the evolution of homo sapiens, but has started to hinder our innovative progress. This means that when running a business, once funders, investors, the IRS, and laws come into play, our imposter is quick to suit-up in order to fit in.
But isn’t it so that only those businesses that go AGAINST the oughta-dos succeed? The success of the business starts with you, the founder, the leader. What’s your most genuine expression of self? What would it look like for you to tune into yourself, call your inner leader forth and embrace it unapologetically?
How To Turn An Acquaintance Into a Business Partner
Once you’ve met some interesting people during your travels and you’re sitting down with your rucksack and Sacher Torte, you’re bound to wonder: how do you make a conversation turn into a follow-up call and into a business relationship?
I’ve found three necessary and fun conversational ingredients:
1) Be succinct and passionate when sharing about what you do. Speak the way you do when you work your magic while working with clients. And remember to speak to who your clients are.
2) Get curious about this new person, i.e., stop talking about yourself already. You can ask questions like what do you do? What brings you here? What are you currently working on? Why did you get into business? What’s your greatest worry? What’s driving you to go on?
3) Practice. Practice. Practice. At worst, they’ll think you’re intrusive or flirtatious. Whatever, on to the next person. With practice, you’ll figure out how to be approachable, sociable and professional.
Of course, you’ll also want to get their info and follow up with a resource, an invitation, or a referral. What goes around, comes around.
Why It’s Worth It To Travel For Business
Building your business while traveling requires a good amount of discipline between setting up a work station and setting aside time to work while knowing all the new sights just outside your door.
But inspiration is out there, not in your old office. Bring yourSELF to business and business to yourSELF, and magic will happen.