Getting face-to-face is the single most powerful benefit of business travel, but are you leaving something on the table? How do you initiate a meeting with someone who would further your goals down the road? Is there background info that could strengthen your meeting outcomes? Consider tapping into the power of LinkedIn when you plan a trip. A few strategic minutes of preparation can really pay off.
Here are three questions to ask yourself before your next trip—and the answers LinkedIn can provide.
1) Is there someone in my network, or on its fringes, with whom I can initiate a meeting?
Sure, you’ve got the bases covered with the purpose of your trip. But if you have time for even a quick coffee with someone you wouldn’t normally meet with, it can pay off in spades. A search of your first-degree connections using the city name will undoubtedly bring up some surprises. (Click on Connections/Keep in Touch and then filter by location.) Send a message that you’ll be in town, arrange to get together, catch up and move the relationship forward.
If you want to expand your connections strategically (perhaps meet with a potential customer or an industry expert), look through your second-degree connections–especially if you can narrow the search by company or industry to make this manageable—and see if there’s anyone you would like to know. Then ask your first-degree connection for an introduction, or hit the “connect” button if available, or purchase InMail. New contacts are more likely to meet with you on an “I’m going to be in town for a couple of days” invitation because there’s a sense of urgency, so you have a relatively easy entry.
And while you’re at it, why not see if any of your connections happen to have travel plans that intersect with yours? There are a couple of ways to check. Jot a quick note in the LinkedIn status update feature to mention where and when you’re traveling. Or, if you use TripIt, enable LinkedIn for TripIt, which will automatically post your upcoming itineraries to your connections. You never know when circumstances may have put you and a colleague together in the same city, serendipitously 🙂
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2) Can I be better prepared for my meetings on the road?
LinkedIn’s company pages are robust these days. Check out any companies you’ll be meeting with—you’ll glean much from reading what they’re posting. Then search on the company for the profiles of employees to gain a wider sense of the organization. Profiles can be a rich source of background regarding the responsibilities, career paths, and even shared interests of the people you’ll be meeting with. You’re traveling a long way to meet face-to-face, why not deepen the conversation by going in with extensive knowledge?
3) Is there information about the destination I’d benefit from?
LinkedIn’s groups are awesome places for conversations like these. There are a number of travel-related groups, like Jet: The Business Traveler Network. Join and tap into other members’ experiences. You can also initiate such a conversation in other groups you participate in, depending on the culture of the group. First, you might get any questions answered about local business culture: What is considered “business casual” in London? How early is too early for scheduling a meeting in New York? What’s the best place for a lunch near by hotel or meeting? You can also ask about the destination for travelers. What’s the best way to spend a free hour in Seattle? Pose a question and see what you get.
Because LinkedIn is so focused on business, it’s a powerful tool for the road warrior. On your next trip, step it up and see where this resource can take you.
Have you ever used LinkedIn in conjunction with business travel? Would you? Share your experience in the comments.
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