Due to the extreme cold, I am completing most of my training runs on the treadmill these days. When the temperature rises above 30, I look for opportunities to run outside, and my favorite spots include our local parks, where I encounter friendly faces, both human and animal.
Staying local (with running or networking) can be limiting. Just as running in new locales energizes my training, to find new ways to grow your influence, consider your location.
To grow your online influence through leveraging LinkedIn, consider how travel, for business (or pleasure) can present opportunities to deepen and renew connections.
Depending on how many connections you have made on Twitter, you likely have connections in many major US cities.
Consider Your Location
Plan Ahead In advance of planning a trip, consider whether you might have extra time to fit in meetings with your online connections. If possible, intentionally build extra time into your trip to allow for in-person networking. On a recent trip to Charlotte, I enjoyed the chance to spend part of my afternoon with longtime online friend Wally Bock.
Use LinkedIn’s Search Capabilities Search your LinkedIn connections to see who might live in the area to which you are traveling. Thoughtfully consider what value you might bring to those connections. Set aside any particular agenda and focus on relationships. How can you strengthen them? Face to face time is powerful!
Tag and Message Your Connections. Once you have searched, tag your connections in the city/region to which you are traveling. Craft a warm, personal message. Include the dates of your trip and windows of availability for meeting with people. Be specific about what you are hoping to accomplish. Sending a note to your connections will also have the added benefit of strengthening your ties and helping you be memorable, even if you are unable to meet people in person. Your note may be a reminder to the person to connect later by phone for collaboration.
Look for Connections Among Your Connections. It is possible that some of your connections in a particular city would benefit from knowing one another. If your time for in-person networking is limited, perhaps you can meet with several friends and once and introduce them to one another. If your budget allows, you may even want to host a happy hour or dinner for several connections in a city. Or, to meet many people at once, you can invite a group of people to join you for a coffee hour (Hat Tip to Jason Womack, who hosts #coffeechats wherever he goes!)
I am looking forward to travel later this week to Atlanta to consult with a long-term client and meet a team member for the first time (!) and I followed the steps outlined above: I booked an early flight to free up a half day for meetings; I sent a note to my Atlanta connections. I made plans to meet with several connections while I am in Atlanta: one long-time online collaborator, one client, a person from a non-profit I’ve done some pro-bono consulting for, and a potential client. I also, as a result of my LinkedIn location based outreach, spoke to one connection for the first time, and renewed conversation with two others.
Tell me something! How do you leverage LinkedIn while traveling?