Recently, our VP of Marketing Joel Mier, shared a story with the Contactually team about how he did some networking while on vacation with his family in the Cayman Islands. Joel moonlights as a Marketing professor at the University of Richmond and a few months ago had sent a ScaleMail out to some of his former students to see how they were doing. One of his students replied that she was working on a boat out of the Cayman Islands, a detail he remembered when he headed there for a recent vacation. They reconnected and even met for a drink…a whole 1,279 miles from where they first initially met in the classroom.

The moral of the story? Networking doesn’t need to be saved for business casual attire and awkward cocktail conversations during the work week. Networking is far more than stiff small talk, and it’s well expanded beyond the boundaries of old school networking events. Much of it can now be done online, a huge plus for those of us who may be more shy or unable to take the time to go to events. And why should you be networking? About 85% of all jobs are found and filled via networking and that’s just the tip of the iceberg! If you’re a real estate agent or small business owner, you’ll know that referrals are a huge part of building up your success, and doesn’t proper networking work towards getting those crucial referrals?

So before you head out for your next vacation or weekend getaway, with a little upfront work, you can set yourself up to get some networking done, even if you’re lounging on the beach in the Cayman Islands!

3 Tips on how to network on vacation:

Before you panic and wonder why the heck you would ever want to do business networking while you’re away on vacation, take a breath. All networking is not business or work-related networking. Networking can most certainly extend to friends, family, former colleagues and beyond! Beyond the personal satisfaction of reconnecting with an old friend or rekindling an old friendship, you never know what these connections could bring you in your professional life as well. A client referral? A new job reference? Be open to the possibilities a little networking can offer up!

1. Say it with your OOO

We know, there’s nothing better than setting up that out of office message for your email and slowly closing your computer knowing that your vacation has finally arrived and all emails can wait. Or can they? As we’ve covered before, a creative OOO message can make the difference between a contact remembering to follow up with you or leaving a memorable impression with your network. So why not use it as a chance to get some networking done?

  • Include where you’re headed. No, that doesn’t mean you have to give the exact location of your hotel or airbnb but it’s a great way to garner tips from your network who may have been there before or just give them a sticky detail to remember you by.
  • Documenting the trip on a public social media profile? Include the link so your contacts can follow along with you…plus it’s an easy way to expand your social network with related folks who may not have had a chance to follow or look you up on social.

2. Where in the world is…

Friends in far-flung places or folks in your network you may have lost touch with? Take a look at your contact list and filter or search by current location to see if there’s anyone living in the area where you’ll be vacationing. Then send them a quick email or note to touch-base, let them know you’ll be in the area, ask for any tips or recommendations and ask if they’d want to meet for coffee or a drink. It’s as simple as that!

Of course you’re under no obligation to meet up with them or make that ask, but if you’re interested in reconnecting, why not? Plus, what’s better than getting recommendations from a local when you’re in a new place? It can only serve to enhance your trip.

3. Attend events

Here’s where some of your upfront work and research will come in handy, and also great if you’re doing some traveling solo! Check out local groups, event pages, or local associations for people in your profession. Depending on where your interests lie, this can be as simple as booking an open group tour, going to a local concert or show, or even looking up if networking groups of interest will be hosting anything in the area.

This is a chance for you to meet new people, professionally or personally or even experience something new. You’d be surprised how often there are free events going on or local networking groups meeting up that could be relevant to you. A few ideas to start your research:

  • Art exhibits or gallery events
  • Local networking groups and meet-ups
  • Group tours
  • Concerts. Is your favorite band on tour?
  • Professional association meetings or gatherings
  • Local gyms or boutique fitness classes

Vacation networking is possible…

Just don’t forget your business cards! For those of us who may want a more active vacation, or can only spend so much time lounging on the beach before getting antsy, having some plans to reach out to your network, or even expand your network while away on vacation could be just the perfect antidote.

It’s not only a great way to reconnect with forgotten folks in your network, but it’s the perfect opportunity to outreach to a new community rife with possibilities of clients, leads, fellow networkers, or even friends.