Italy, Hungary, Switzerland and Israel were my stops during my May business travel. It all started with one simple speaking request in Hungary last year.
Somehow, a one-off speaking invitation expanded into a business meeting in Venice, two speaking sessions in Budapest, a workshop in Lausanne and a conference in Tel Aviv. Although it seemed the stars lined up with ease, it took careful orchestration and significant effort to make all these opportunities happen.
Let your network know about your upcoming business trip
I didn’t broadcast that I would be in Hungary when the speaking engagement was confirmed. Telling people where you will be and having people reach out to connect on FB or Twitter is very “American”. I discovered that Europeans are more discreet and value personal communication. I carefully selected the people that I wanted to reach out to in England, Germany and Switzerland. Then, I crafted an e-mail explaining when I would be in Europe, why we should meet and what the expected benefits of the meeting were. Several expressed interest in getting together. However, despite all the pre-work and discussions about potential logistics, I only ended up arranging one meeting. However, rather than having many meetings of questionable value, the one meeting I did have was particularly useful and made good use of my travel time. Tip: I have found that targeted outreach with personalized e-mail works the best for arranging effective business meetings, even though it’s certainly more time-consuming.
Create an opportunity for yourself
Since I was going to be in Europe already, I thought I might as well do a workshop. The challenge was finding a local partner to collaborate with. I was able to convince Kelly Hungerford, who happens to live in Switzerland, to be my partner-in-crime. Oh, boy! It WAS a lot of work to promote an unknown subject matter expert (me) to French and German speaking marketers. Kelly and I learned so much from organizing and promoting this workshop. Expect to see a blog post on our lessons learned next week! Tip: Organizing and marketing a workshop in other regions is very different than in your own country. You may be able to use the same workshop materials, but your value propositions and marketing channels will be need to be modified.
Serendipity works it’s way
Initially, I had no intention of going to Israel, since my focus was Budapest and Switzerland. Through a casual conversation with a friend in Sao Paulo, I learned that he was taking 30 Brazilian businessmen, investors and lawyers to check out the start-up landscape in Israel. Since the event date was right after my workshop, I immediately jumped in. I got a chance to understand the current Israeli start-up environment and how private, government and academia work together to nurture talent. Of course, I passed my business card around and created potential opportunities. Tip: Spread the words through casual conversations and let Karma work its magic.
Here is the truth…
Frankly, I am not very disciplined about maximizing my business trips. It takes time to think through who you should contact and how to craft an appropriate e-mail. It’s a lot of work. With advanced preparation, I was able to close one deal and add several potential leads to my pipeline. You can’t wait for the stars to align for you. You will need to proactively find your own stars!