How to Successfully Make Connections When Traveling Aboard
Thursday, July 12, 2018
One of the benefits of pursuing a business degree, like a Full-Time MBA at Krannert, is the opportunity to study abroad. International travel offers the experience to dive into a different culture; taking in the sights, trying new fares, and often practicing a different language. For professionals, travel offers an additional advantage. With some planning and a little extra work, you can expand your network across the globe.
In addition to typical travel essentials like toiletries, clothing, important travel documents, and technology, there are some additional items students should be packing if they're seeking professional opportunities and connections when they're visiting a different country.
Before You Go: Reach Out to Alumni in the Area
Use your school's alumni database to find potential connections at the country you'll be visiting. Reach out to them and ask them if they would be willing to grab a cup of coffee or meet at a local park during your visit. If your alumni network is large, like Purdue's, you might be able to fine-tune your search to alumni working in your area of interest.
We know your bag is already jam-packed with outfits for leisure and weekend excursions, but it's important to save some room for professional attire. Should an occasion arise where you can form connections in a business casual environment, you’ll be ready to network and look the part.
Items to Make an Impression
In order to make a lasting impression or say thank you, you need to come prepared. Pack some thank you cards to write a handwritten note. You should also bring some items that represent your home state, city, or your university to give when you leave.
If you're a Purdue student, consider bringing a small train and tell people you meet about the Boilermaker Special, perhaps a handwritten recipe card with Hoosier sugar cream pie (it's highly likely the country you'll be visiting uses the metric system, so make sure you convert the recipe's measurements accordingly), or some Purdue astronaut lunar landing facts to share about the university's history. Be creative.
If you ultimately want to work in the country you're visiting, come as prepared as possible and take advantage of all opportunities. When you have copies of your resume, it shows that you’re prepared and serious about building a connection. Bring both a digital copy and printed copies of your resume.
Never worry about finding a pen and paper to share your contact information by bringing business cards. It will encourage making connections and you will come off as more professional.
A System to Keep Track of Your Contacts
You should also ask for your connection's contact information, so you have a way to reach them. Use your smartphone's contact management system or a small contact book. Make sure you're including notes about the person to jog your memory when you meet again.
To remember all the people, the conversations, the stories, and the experiences, it's best to accompany your photographs with written memories via a journal. You can do this digitally if you prefer, but a tangible journal also can act like a scrapbook of sorts. Be sure to add any photos to the corresponding pages.
Why is this important for professional students? These stories and memories can be drawn upon for future interviews. Without remembering these moments well, your answer could fall short.
As a Full-Time MBA student, you should be taking full advantage of all the benefits of a business degree. For business students at Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management, that means considering a study abroad opportunity. We think the chance to grow your network internationally is one of the benefits of pursuing a graduate business degree.