Business travels can bear unexpected fruits and be a lot of fun. These innovative ideas will help. I use these very principles in my travels and have refined the process a lot over the years and it continues to evolve, like this recent Facebook Live video I did on the topic for example.
Now, you generally must allot an extra day or two on your trips to do this. It will give you “inventory” to meet with locals and maybe see some sights or live music.
AHEAD OF TIME – Build up your network in cities you travel to often or at least 1x a year. Search on LinkedIn for those people that interest you most and invite them to connect BEFORE you get there, as much ahead as possible. A nicely built local network makes everything else below much more effective.
A COUPLE WEEKS OUT – Do a simple search on your local connections (e.g. relationship = 1, city = Chicago) and see what you find. Let some of them know (via LinkedIn message) that you are coming to town, perhaps share why you are coming. In some cases, you might offer to meet up for coffee, lunch or happy hour or dinner.
I really have my best 1-on-1’s on trips with a beer in my hand. Other options are to have them meet you at your hotel (many will), at their office or a neutral place. I like Uber of a cab for these excursions. I do some research using my phone on the way.
A “LARGER” IDEA – When there are a lot of people you’d like to see and not enough time, you might arrange a small “meet up” and get some folks together. You will find that some of them know one another and most do not. Everyone likes it and you are the life of the party. I use EventBrite sometimes so I have a URL to share and so people invite others.
The venue is important. I like a place that has live music, at least at some point in the night. Ask the locals for suggestions. A few pointers:
- Arrive early to get a space, look for hi-Top tables
- Spring for some appetizers – maybe $20
- They can pay for their own drinks (unless they have pitchers of beer)
- Take some pics and have people post them with tags
- I bring Hello My Name Is badges and 2 sharpies most of the time
OTHER HAPPENINGS – While you are in town, see what is happening. In my case, I see who is playing (live music) while I am there. The locals know and you might find someone to go with using some of the techniques above. Add the keyword “music” (or something more to your personal tastes) to your search.
You will be utilizing the familiar searching, invitation and messaging techniques you are familiar with. You might make use of LinkedIn tags to keep even better track of what you are doing.