The meeting has ended and it's time to relax a little. The last thing you want to do now is lose the admiration of colleagues with inappropriate behaviour. Some social downtime to experience new cultures is one of the things business travellers enjoy most -- but the wrong behaviour can make or break a deal. While your friend will forgive you for having one too many or asking intrusive questions, a new business colleague may not.
We want to help you form better work relationships while travelling -- after all, one in five bookings on our site are made for business. Follow these seven rules and you'll be en route to not only a new destination, but a better work life.
Rule #1: Tally your drink count
As this is a professional setting, we would suggest staying clear of the tequila shots -- even if the other person encourages you. No one knows your alcohol tolerance better than you, so it may be best to stick to a glass of wine or beer. It's difficult to practice good decorum when you have had too much to drink, and even more difficult to make a good impression when you're stumbling.
Rule #2: Meet, greet and get to know
Like you, your colleagues have lives outside of work. Perhaps Mike from finance used to be a professional snowboarder, or Sarah from marketing can cook the best tortellini you'll ever have. The mysteries are endless. Now is your time to learn what your co-workers do when they're not at the office. Learn about their hobbies and how they spend their leisure time by listening and asking questions. However, make sure your questions aren't too invasive and rely on their body language to tell you if an inquiry is too personal -- you don't want to make anyone uncomfortable.
Rule #3: Don't just schmooze, create interesting topics to discuss
While small talk, like speaking about the weather, may be a good intro, we wouldn't rely on it -- unless you want to come off dull. Similar to an interview, do a bit of research on current events to find topics to discuss. You're sure to impress with your knowledge on the latest presidential debate, or even on your colleague's latest project. Tip: Asking a person how they became involved with the company or event is always an excellent way to start a conversation.
Rule #4: Avoid munching while chatting
If you attend a cocktail hour, don't spend the entire time with your food in one hand and your drink in the other. How else are you meant to shake a person's hand? It's too difficult to network this way. We know the sushi rolls are good, but no one needs soy sauce on their hand or seaweed in their teeth. Enjoy one at a time and take a food break if needed. Carrying a breath mint with you isn't a bad idea either.
Rule #5: Don't spend too much time with people you already know
It's easy to want to chat to those you already know well -- but there's no point staying at your comfort level when one of the purposes of business travel is to network. The person you're familiar with can be helpful for introductions to new people, but don't rely on him or her. This is the opportune time to get to know someone new. Be brave, resist the urge of familiarity and introduce yourself to a new colleague. Remember, they're probably feeling the same way!
Rule #6: Think quality, not quantity
You're not the president, you don't have to socialize with everyone in the room. You also don't have the time to really get to know people and build strong relationships if you do so. Take this opportunity to spend time with a few interesting individuals -- you'll have a decent discussion and leave a lasting impression.
Rule #7: Suggest a fun activity during free time
Let's say your meeting is taking place in the beautiful and historical city of Rome, and you have some free time. Grab your new work friends and head to the Colosseum or Trevi Fountain. Not only will you seem adventurous, but you'll appear even more relatable. Not to mention, you'll also have something to talk about!
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