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Monday, May 22, 2006
Travel Can Boost Opportunities
Do you travel a great deal for your job? Many Americans do, often spending thirty-five to seventy-five percent of their work time traveling. If you travel a lot, there is a good chance that you take the same flights on a regular basis and start seeing familiar faces. Often the flight crew is familiar because they work the same flights all the time and you learn their faces. But what about the other passengers? Do you recognize some of them?

Most business travelers get on the flight and crank up the laptop or the PDA as soon as the captain gives permission. There are those minutes during takeoff and landing and at the gate, though, during which you are not tied to your electronic devices. Make the most of that time by striking up a friendly conversation with your seatmate or the person across the aisle and do a little networking.

Sam (not his real name) was a road warrior sales guy in the IT business. His job was to expand a certain territory and he flew a great deal in and out of San Francisco from Austin, Texas. Rather than burying himself in a book or his next presentation, he decided to take one month of traveling and make people connections instead. He chatted with old ladies, other business travelers, the flight attendants, teenagers traveling to see the non-resident parent—pretty much anyone who he sat next to in the plane or at the gate.

The results were astonishing. His sales increased by $2M from two new accounts that he landed as a direct result of chatting with seatmates. He got free upgrades when there was space because the flight attendants knew him and would pull him to first class when possible. He generated several potential leads that he could pass on to other territory managers and he made some friends.

Can you use this technique for networking for your career? Sure you can! In fact, Sam was offered a job by one of the new accounts that he landed as a result of his travel chat. You can also use travel to score points with clients, partners or even the boss – points that can contribute to a promotion or a good offer. Some ideas for making the most of traveling include:

- Create a cheat sheet for the trip that includes client phone numbers, the numbers of the hotel and car rental agency, and the airline. Give a copy to everyone going on the trip.
- Build a dossier on the prospective client that you are visiting that gives the vital information such as names of the head honchos, last quarter earnings, etc. This might come in handy for those who haven’t had time to do their research.
- Call ahead to the concierge and request restaurant recommendations. He/she might be able to provide some suggestions and websites for your preview so you can make some informed suggestions when the “Where can we go for dinner?” question arises.
- Prepare a contingency plan for possible glitches such as an overbooked flight, an overbooked hotel, backup files of the presentation, or weather problems.

So many people claim to be “detail-oriented” or able to execute tactically, but travel can be an opportunity to actually show what you can do.

November 2005 / December 2005 / January 2006 / February 2006 / March 2006 / April 2006 / May 2006 /


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