My job requires a large amount of travel. I spend at least 12 to 15 nights per month in hotels. Not long ago I realized I should be doing some business networking while I am on the road. How can I get started finding out what's happening in the cities I visit, and learning about events that could be useful to check out before I arrive in town?
You're smart to think about these visits to other cities as an opportunity and try to make the most of business trips. Here are a few ideas:
1) Check out the online version of the local newspaper's business section for an events listing. Learn as much as you can about those events via the hosting organization's Web site before you purchase a ticket or adjust your schedule in order to attend. If you stay in a downtown hotel, you'll be in a better position to get to events and quickly back to your hotel.
2) Use the Answers section of LinkedIn to inquire about the best business networking groups in the cities you visit most often. Even better, use LinkedIn to make a local connection who can show you the ropes on your next business/networking trip.
3) Hop over to Twitter and use the search box at the top of the page to locate one or more target cities. Once you find Twitter users in your most-visited locations, sign up to "follow" those people and learn where they network locally.
4) Add a note about your out-of-town networking aspirations to your Facebook profile, so networkers in your target cities will be able to find you.
5) Last, run a Google search on "El Paso business networking" (for example) to find out who's doing what in the cities where you'd like to make contacts.
Virtually every medium-sized and larger metro area in the U.S. hosts a variety of after-work and evening networking events during the week. Three cheers to you for choosing getting-out-and-mingling over staying in to watch TV in your hotel room. Summer is a great time for networking.