A big realization I’ve had is that meeting someone in person creates a much stronger impact than connecting with them over email or call.
A Harvard Business Review article reads
A Face-to-Face Request Is 34 Times More Successful Than an Email.
Every time I travel to a new city for business or vacation, I make it a point to allocate a day or two to meet folks with similar interests. The possibility of these meetings are endless – mentorship, peer learning, sales or business opportunities, partnership, collaboration or even a new career opportunity.
The goal for these meetings should be to build long-lasting relationships.
You might want to avoid a direct sales pitch in any of these meetings unless that is the intended agenda of the meeting.
- Identifying the right people to schedule meetings with
- Making the connect
- Scheduling meetings
- On the day tips
Identifying the right people to schedule meetings with
The best place, to begin with, is to look for friends and connections in the city. It could be difficult to remember all of them, especially when they keep shifting from one city to another.
In such circumstances, Social Media Platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter can come in handy.
Searching for friends on Facebook
Facebook allows you to perform a Graph Search using the search term –
My friends who live in <city name>
It will list out all friends who have added their city on their Facebook Profile. These friends could also connect you to new connections you would like to meet in the city.
LinkedIn 1st-degree Connections
LinkedIn has a more structured search option with the ability to look up 1st-degree connections in a particular city with specific keywords based on the title, company, industries, etc.
A similar approach could be used for identifying 2nd-degree and 3rd-degree connections too. LinkedIn allows a search based on multiple values and also permits the use of Boolean Search.
Title: VP of Sales OR Marketing OR Chief OR Growth
Twitter’s Advanced Search
Twitter has an advanced search option (which is slightly difficult to discover) that allows you to look for people who tweet from a specific city. You could also filter the search by the people you follow.
Here is how the search term appears
“Keyword” near “City Name” within:15mi
Look up for events on Eventbrite, Meetup or Facebook
Even if you are not able to make it for the event, try connecting with the speaker or the organizer of the meetup and requesting for connections. Majority of the times, they are likely to be strong community leaders in that city, with well-established connections with people from that specific domain or vertical.
Facebook Events Discovery could also be an avenue to identify events and people with common interests, whom you can connect with and meet.
List of Startups or Companies in the city
Generally, media publications put out listicles of Startups or Companies in a specific city. Using LinkedIn Search, you can identify people who work in these startups or companies and connect with them.
Search term: <Vertical> Companies/Startups in <City>
Making the most out of AngelList
AngelList is a website for startups, angel investors and job-seekers looking to work at startups. The platform could point you to startups and active investors from a specific city. Using the vertical keyword can be helpful at times too.
Scheduling Meetings with existing Customers or connections from the CRM
If you run a business and use a CRM Software, search for customers, prospects or leads who are in the city and reach out to them to know if they are available for a catch-up. Meeting with existing customers can definitely help build a stronger relationship and can be a means to obtain better feedback about how they use the product.
Connecting on Facebook Groups
Identify Facebook Groups in the city you are traveling to and request to join. These groups can often be crowded, making it difficult to identify the right folks to connect with. In such cases, reach out to the admins, who would know the right companies or individuals in particular verticals you can connect with. If not, feel free to make a post about your visit and request for connections to meet.
Or, if you are already part of an active global group on Facebook, you could search for polls or posts similar to this to identify individuals to meet.
Create a tracker on your CRM or Spreadsheet
At times, scouting can be overwhelming. You can easily lose track of the people you would like to connect with. To avoid this, I usually create a lead view in the CRM software to keep track of and follow up with the folks I would like to connect with.
You can also use a spreadsheet to keep track of the list. Here is a spreadsheet template I put together that you could use as the tracker.
Making the connection
Requesting for a meeting using LinkedIn Message or Connection Request
LinkedIn is a great platform to initiate the conversation about a meeting. You could either send it as part of the connection request or as a message once they accept your request.
Here is a format you could use;
- When are you visiting?
- The intention of the meeting.
- Call to Action.
Requesting for Introductions on LinkedIn
An approach which works well is to ask for recommendations on whom to meet through Linkedin or Email. This could open up new opportunities and relationships.
I looked up Dojo Coworking space in Bali. The coworking space has a ~350 member community and hosts about ~400 events in a year. The conversation with them resulted in me presenting a talk on “B2B Content Marketing Hacks” and how we are running the Freshsales CRM Webinar Series.
Tweeting or Direct Messaging on Twitter
Once you have made your list, Twitter could also be a good platform to reach out to them. You could tweet to them or Direct Message them if they have it open.
Post on Facebook / LinkedIn to let your friends or connections know.
A few days before your travel, make a social media post informing your connections about your visit to the city.
Morgan J Ingram (Director, JBarrows Sales Training) made a post asking for suggestions on people to meet in Amsterdam.
Guillaume Moubeche (Lemlist) made a post about his trip to Tel-Aviv (Israel) and requested for connections to meet people.
Plan a closed group meetup
If you already know certain folks from a specific vertical in the city and would like to connect with more such people, you can plan a closed group meetup. Here’s a tip – make it a small group with a focussed agenda.
Meeting your customers or leads
Krish from Chargebee had a P.S. in one of their product newsletters, mentioning his visit to London and requesting to meet customers.
Use an in-product chat app to request customers for a meeting. It could be about product feedback or understanding how they use the product.
It can be challenging to schedule multiple meetings within a limited period of time. A good practice here would be to send out a calendar invite with the location marked as and when you confirm on the meeting. Some points to remember:
- Always schedule in the visiting location’s time zone.
- Mark the location so that you can avoid confusion when you are on the road, jumping from one meeting to another. Google also provides appropriate reminders on when to leave for your next meeting.
- Provide ample time for commute and traffic between one meeting to another.
A bonus if your CRM software has a calendar integration.
Use Google My Maps to point out the exact location along with the time of each meeting. You could really save time and effort by having meetings in nearby locations consecutively.
If you plan to meet at Starbucks or any restaurant chain, make sure you get the exact address of the store before you leave.
The meeting location was “Starbucks on Orchard Road, Singapore”. Little did I know that there were 14 Starbucks on the same road. Both of us were at two different outlets and the meeting unfortunately never happened due to this confusion.
Meeting Day Tips
A lesson learned over time is to notify the person about the meeting before you leave. It helps them plan their time and be prepared for the meeting.
Notifying them helps, especially when you are in an international city without internet connectivity. It helps confirm the meeting and avoids confusion even if you get delayed by traffic.
Also, keep the person posted and notify if you are delayed or arriving early. Over communication helps here.
Once you finish your meeting, remember to quickly take notes about points that were discussed and further action points. You can either use the CRM Mobile App to take notes or use Evernote to take notes on the go.
If you are not yet connected on LinkedIn, send a follow-up connection request on LinkedIn after the meeting.
After the meeting, it also helps to drop the person you met, a thank you message.
So, this is a breakdown of the process I’ve been using to schedule meetings with meet people when I travel to a new city. I hope there’s at least one new takeaway or practice you got from here for your next trip.
Share your comments and favorite tips from this article. Let’s have a conversation!
Thanks to Madhumita Prabhakar for helping in editing the article!