If you follow me on any of the major social networks you’ll probably have noticed that I was in Vancouver last week. The main aim of my trip was to visit my friends at HootSuite HQ but the trip ended up being far more productive than I first expected.
Before, during and after my trip, the social web allowed me to make new friends, build my network, arrange meetings and bring in business.
I didn’t do anything groundbreaking and, after this trip, it’s certainly going to be something I do more of.
So, how did I do it?
Make the Most of Your Existing Network
I’ve found that the most powerful platforms for making the most of your business trips are Twitter and LinkedIn. By using the unique functionality of each of these platforms you are able to target, connect, and engage with a vast network of professionals.
Whichever platform you use, your first step should be to identify if you are already connected to anyone in the city you are visiting.
For LinkedIn this is simple; just use their internal search function to search your network and use the location filter on the left hand side.
Tip: You should also use TripIt to make sure all your connections know your travel plans.
For Twitter this is slightly more difficult. I use MapMyFollowers which is a third party app which shows you exactly where your connections live. From this visual map you will be able to drill down and identify who it would be worth reaching out to.
Once you’ve identified who’s nearby, you can then start reaching out.
— Social B2B Ltd. (@AllanBBeaton) July 14, 2012
If you’ve taken the time to research and identify them and then direct a personalised message to them, people will respond. Once you are connected you can ask for tips, introductions or arrange to meet in person.
Another great way to leverage your community is to ask for recommendations or introductions. You might not know many people in your destination city, but you can be certain that your network will. Make the most of who they know by directly asking for introductions.
Expanding Your Network
As well as allowing you the opportunity to build on the relationship you have with your existing online community, travel also gives you a unique opportunity to reach out to new connections.
Before my trip to Vancouver I posted on LinkedIn group forums, Tweeted using the #Vancouver hashtag and kept updating my status on foursquare and Twitter once I was there. By doing these simple things I was able to schedule highly productive meetings with new connections on each day of my weeklong stay. I also added a significant number of valuable followers and connections on all of my social profiles.
In previous blog articles I’ve spoken about how the social web should work alongside real world networking and interaction. This is a perfect example of how the social web can deliver real world value. Whether you are just visiting another UK city or heading half way across the world, I strongly urge you to make the most of the social web. If you use it in the right way, it will add significant value to your trip.