I am sure you all know this scenario. You board a plane, find your seat and… score! Spare seat next to me!
The excitement quickly turns into an anxious wait as the plane fills up. Someone has a baby and they’re heading your way. Nerves rise. They pass. Phew.
Here comes a very attractive person. You think: “I could tolerate this.” A very large person then looks in your direction and the worry returns. This painful process continues until they close the doors. Victory.
This used to be my approach until my first trip to Europe as a teenager when I started a conversation with the older man seated next to me and I learned that he was a great person and that I could learn a lot from him. (It also helped that he liked a drink and got me into the Emirates First Class lounge in Dubai.)
I changed my whole approach since this flight. I now always hope someone is sitting next to me and when people are walking I like to judge them on how interesting I think they could be to talk to.
Although I can’t really handle the price, I try to get up to the pointy end of the plane as much as possible – generally that’s where the most successful people are and you get opportunities to meet people you otherwise never could. The value I have got from some of these opportunities is incredible. I have been lucky enough to sit next to some amazing people in the last few years.
I have sat next to leaders of huge organisations, celebrities, political leaders, philanthropists and people who have just given me a view on a particular topic that I was not aware of. I have since formed friendships and done business with some of these people.
By far the greatest thing to occur to me was that I sat next to one of Australia’s greatest female entrepreneurs, who is one of the most amazing and interesting people I have ever met and now she is a mentor of mine. So next time you get on a plane I challenge you to look at the potential opportunities that could be coming your way.
Overseas travel is something you may not think that you either need or can afford, but I want to tell you why I think it’s important for you and for your business. Travelling lets you do these things:
1. Conduct a face-to-face meeting.
Sure, sometimes you can conduct business over the phone or via teleconference. But when it’s really critical, like meeting with a potential new client who is really on the fence about hiring you, there is no substitute for simply sitting down with that person and talking it out.
You can meet people in the airport, on the plane, at your hotel, at a restaurant, at a conference. You never know where you might meet a potential new client, new supplier, or partner. The more places you go and the more people you meet, the better your chances of finding someone who can really make a difference in your business.
3. Identify trends and new markets.
While Australia is definitely a first-world country in terms of civilisation and technology, we aren’t the top of the heap in everything. There are other countries that are way ahead of us in terms of generating new ideas. If we don’t look outwards, we’re liable to fall behind the curve instead of staying out in front.
4. Source materials and human resources.
Here in Australia, because we’re so internally-focused, we tend to lose sight of the fact that there’s a really big world out there. There are millions of companies and people with whom we might be able to work better or more cost-efficiently, and those people and companies might be located outside of Australia.
5. Analyse other ways of conducting business.
If you go to another country, you can see how someone in your industry targets new customers, what services they offer, and anything that might be different from the way you serve your customers. There might be far better methods, that you haven’t even imagined, that other people are currently utilising.
6. The most important reason of all, in my opinion – you get away from your business for a little while.
This gives you the space and time you need to gain some perspective. You can look at your business from a distance, and get a more objective view on it. You can clear your head of the day-to-day workings and look at the big picture. This allows you to really see yourself and your business, evaluate where you are and where you are going, and see if any changes are necessary to get there.
Finn Kelly is the CEO and co-founder of Gen Y financial and business advisory firm, Wealth Enhancers, along with parent company, private wealth management firm, WE Private. In 2013 Finn represented Australia at the G20 Young entrepreneurs’ alliance Summit in Moscow, has been named twice as a ‘Top 30 under 30’ entrepreneur, and winner of the Money Management’s 2012 Fund Manager of the year, young achiever award. He is a respected finance commentator and shares his views on a variety of topics at his website, The Finn Review.
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