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5 Travel Tips That Will Help You Improve Your Networking Game

by Jennifer Lachs
Posted: November 01, 2015

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How many times have you been told that you have to network in order to get an internship, a job, or just to get ahead in life?

For many students and professionals, networking is about as appealing as a visit to the dentist. Afterall, it can be difficult to muster the courage to approach someone in a professional setting and attempt to make a connection with them. However, as networking becomes more and more important in the workforce, with recent studies claiming that up to 80% of jobs are now found through networking, it is about time we found a way to make it less painful and more enjoyable.

Luckily, one of the best and most enjoyable ways to improve your networking skills is something most of us love to do – travel!

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The idea of travelling to new countries and meeting other travellers and locals is exciting, but it can also be daunting. We have to put ourselves out there, approach perfect strangers and sometimes ask them for help or advice.

Hang on a minute - that sounds exactly like networking! Yes, it's true, the skills you learn while travelling can definitely help you in your career. Here we look at five networking skills you can learn from travelling which will hopefully give you the confidence to approach people in a more professional setting.

1. Change your attitude

The first rule of networking is to drop the “working” part and start thinking of it as fun. Call it “meeting awesome people and making new friends” and you will start to see the parallels with travelling. When making new travel friends you are ultimately just expanding your network, only in a more relaxed setting.

2. Break the ice

The hardest part of any networking event is usually just talking to that first person, just as it’s the hardest part to meet that first new friend in a new hostel. Instead of hiding in your bunk bed, be the one who approaches people. Try using the 3 W’s of travel "Where are you from? Where have you been? Where are you going next?" This is a classic backpacker icebreaker and is basically code for “do you want to be friends?”

3. Immerse yourself

Immersing yourself in a new culture will teach you a lot about unique customs and seemingly quirky traditions. Insecurity often stems from a lack of understanding. Learning about other cultures helps us to be more open minded, tolerant and ultimately more confident. Stay a night at a local homestay, have a little chat with your tuk-tuk driver, visit a local village school. Going that little bit deeper can help you to relate better to people from different cultures and countries, a great advantage when networking.

4. Body language

Learning a new language is not easy, it can feel embarrassing practising with locals, especially when they laugh or don’t understand you. Being forced to use your hands and feet to communicate is a blessing in disguise. You will get better at reading people and their body language which is a great skill for networking and life in general.

5. Expand your horizons

Often we don’t notice how similar most of our friends and acquaintances are. It’s only natural that most friends made at school or at university have similar interests to us. When networking, we have to step out of our comfort zone to approach strangers who may have very different interests and opinions to ourselves. When you're travelling, you will meet interesting people from all walks of life. These could be yoga teachers, sailors, bloggers, fruit sellers or musicians. This will help you to be comfortable talking to people who are completely different from you, which will make you more open and confident in networking sessions when meeting people outside your usual social circle.

So what are you waiting for? Use your next trip as an excuse to start networking!

You can read more about how to network on our Career Change Guide or check out our blog post on 10 Networking Mistakes.

 

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Jennifer Lachs

Jennifer Lachs

Jenny is a globetrotting writer, blogger and former scientist. Originally from Munich, Germany, she has lived and worked in 5 countries across the world. After finishing her PhD in chemistry in 2013 she went on a round-the-world trip that took her to over 15 countries, including Australia, where she lived for a year. She writes about her travels and her quest to become a digital nomad on her blog Square Hippie.

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