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What I’ve learnt: networking in the sky

Want to fly business class but pay economy prices? Please read on.

Ok, it’s not business class exactly but we have discovered a new trend that transforms travelling for work into an opportunity for you and your business. It’s the concept of ‘socialising in the sky’ or ‘social seating’, whereby you take advantage of time in-flight to meet a potential business partner or mentor. In this piece we take a look at some of these innovative schemes that take networking to new heights.

1) Here on Biz

Here on Biz, the brainchild of business partners Nick Smoot and Allen Hartwig, is the one stop shop for all your networking needs. The app allows you to network with guests on the same flight as you. Additional features – that eerily wouldn’t seem out of place in your average spy film – include the ability to find professionals in your immediate area, see where your business contacts are at any time and receive alerts when contacts or people of interest arrive in your town. Beyond being able to network in-flight, you can also find professionals that are staying in the same hotel or attending the same events as you. Basically, with this 360 approach to finding new contacts, you’re left with absolutely no reason whatsoever not to connect with new people.

2) Delta Innovation Class

Where ‘Here on Biz’ allows you to never miss an opportunity to meet someone new, this scheme enables you to create a networking opportunity that is as meaningful as possible. Rather than sitting next to someone of shared interested, the Delta Innovation programme seats you next to a leading figure from the world of business. Working in partnership with LinkedIn, to sign up, you simply fill out an application form and if successful, you’ll spend your flight in conversation with a business leader who can act as a sounding board and help you develop your ideas as well as offering their wisdom and experience.

3) Meet and Seat

This initiative comes from KLM airlines and, like Delta, uses social media sites as a means of connecting professionals. Meet and Seat works by allowing users to view the Facebook and LinkedIn profiles of other passengers and choose seats based on their interests. To sign up, all you have to do is share your Facebook or LinkedIn details on KLM’s site, check in or log on to My Trip. Next, using the seat map tool, you can check the details of other passengers using the scheme, where they will be sitting, and then select a seat next to someone you are interested in speaking to, with the freedom of changing as often as you like.

Privacy

A major consideration to be made if you do choose to sign up to any of these schemes is privacy. All of the schemes above allow you to restrict the information you place on sites – so you may choose for example, to give only the details of your flight rather than giving your hotel, city and event details away too. Some of the schemes have a policy that guarantees information will be deleted after a period of time (for example, 48 hours after your flight), and you always have the option to opt out at any time too. For added security we suggest online security apps such as McAfee Multi Access.

Give it a go

Being a small business or lone entrepreneur can mean that you might not have access to membership clubs or conferences that enable you to meet other people in your industry. Any free schemes that enable you to connect to people in your field, or who have expertise that you are lacking is worthwhile for helping you to take your business to the next level.

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