Want to swoop on contacts? Do it by plane

FORGET Twitter for a second and think about a potentially tremendous networking platform: the passenger jet.

FORGET Twitter for a second and think about a potentially tremendous networking platform: the passenger jet. Any airline flight is likely to be peppered with powerful people who cannot escape.

If you are canny enough, you can turn chit-chat conducted at 35,000 feet into connections that give your small business added oomph.

Consultant and speaker Peter Taliangis, who describes in-flight networking as fun, gives his take on how it is done.

For starters, Taliangis suggests, wear a T-shirt boldly displaying your business logo.

Get to the departure lounge early and try a spot of networking there.

Also arrive at the gate early to see who else is on the flight. Be one of the first travellers aboard and grab a seat near the front, so you can see everybody file down the aisle.

Next, as you start work, unpack a brochure or folder showing your company name, and greet as many passengers as possible.

After striking up a conversation with one, take a step that may initially seem counterproductive.

"Excuse yourself out of the conversation," says Taliangis. You need to give your neighbour an exit in case you are talking too much, he says.

One way is to visit the toilet, even if you don't need to go. There, Taliangis says, leave one of your business cards, and drop another on the floor elsewhere.

Back at your seat, let your budding acquaintance restart the conversation, should they want to. Talk about topics other than work as soon as possible; find common ground quickly by asking what they do for fun.

Taliangis says: "Ask about their family, where they live. Do they follow the football, cricket?" Avoid politics and religion, he says.

Rhett Morris, who runs the consultancy Bulletproof People, also highlights the value of showing your logo - only he means the one that you should have as your screensaver, which will be revealed as you open your laptop.

If your business name is quirky like his, curiosity should kick in. Expect a comment, followed by an inquiry about what you do, Morris says.

Another way to spark curiosity is to read or edit a document with a catchy business-slanted heading, he says, adding that, for his work, he writes articles on eye-catching subjects including harassment.

Everyone's nosey. Whatever you are reading or writing, your neighbour will notice.

If you want to grab attention, think "less is more", especially if you are in business class or the first two rows of economy class, next to busy, badgered executives.

Play it soft, Morris suggests. For instance, open the conversation by asking your neighbour if the reason for their trip is business or pleasure. "That triggers a good convo," he says.

But, he warns, tune in to body language - if it shows that your neighbour obviously does not want to talk, do not push your luck. Overselling will damage your brand.

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