Paul Chai

If you’re going to listen to anything this week, make it this: it’s about time you get off the internet and into a room of your peers, it’s one of the best ways to get ahead in your career.

We are in the travel industry and to the outside world that can seem like a constant party of famils and office drinks as we all plan our next overseas adventure. But the reality is we are often chained to the computer slaving over someone else’s ideal holiday, and wondering if there isn’t more to this whole travel gig.

That’s where networking comes in. Sometimes heading to a work function can seem like the last thing you want to do, but they have the word “work” in the title for a reason. Work drinks/lunch/famils are not just an excuse to get on it during work hours, they are an opportunity to learn more about your industry and make contacts you can use to your advantage.

Follow these networking tips and you will have a new job before you can say “daggy office dancing”.


Make a plan


Don’t just turn up to the opening of a bottle, you need to make sure an event is worth your time and try to find out who will be there. Is this event going to put you in front of the right people? Do you know who those people are? If you are a personal travel agent and you want to get into corporate bookings, find the right person and ask them questions.

Research the event by finding out who is hosting it and make sure you make yourself known to them. But make it brief and memorable, they have a big room to work.


Ask a bucketload of questions


These gatherings are great resources for finding out other corners of the industry that you didn’t even know existed. Be interested in people, ask what they do and learn about how the travel game works. Make connections and get in touch later with interesting follow-up questions.

Do not just stroll around the party bigging up your achievements, the best networkers are good at listening and learning.


Playing cards


Don’t hand your cards out like a blackjack dealer in the casino. A business card should be the full stop to a useful networking conversation not something you thrust at every person you meet.

When you accept a card carry a pen and use it to make notes on the back. Is this person worth following up with? What did you talk about? How can this person help your career?


Don’t get too merry


This is a work function so make sure you drink in moderation and mind your Ps and Qs when speaking to colleagues. You don’t want to talk too loudly about others or bad mouth your current employer or team. You may be looking to move but the travel industry can be a small world, never burn your bridges.

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READ: Should I stay or should I go?

When did you last do the networking shuffle?