Travel is often fun, but it isn't always for vacation. In our global economy, many find themselves traveling for education - and for the right career move.
For those travelers, here are five things to consider during the journey:
Every Stop Is a Branding Moment
When we travel, we tend to let go a bit... We're free to be ourselves; we're more willing to set aside inhibitions. And too often when that happens, the moment is immortalized on Facebook or Instagram.
Remember: What happens in Cairo stays in Cairo...until some fool puts it on Facebook.
Be aware of your personal brand while you travel. Be a smart global and digital citizen. Make sure everything that gets posted on social media paints you in a positive light. After all, your employer, future employers, school and parents are probably watching.
Every Stop Is a Learning Moment
There is so much we can learn as we travel! And not just in the classroom, but everywhere.
- See a local harvesting bananas? Stop! Ask her what she's doing and why. Offer to help.
- Spot a fruit or vegetable you've never seen before? Learn everything you can about its origins, nutritional value, and (of course) taste.
- In the business district, spot a friendly face enjoying a cup of coffee? Strike up a conversation!
Attend events; seek out meet-ups; soak up the local business practices, religious customs, languages and traditions. Learn everything you can. After all, you may never be this way again.
Get Involved: Volunteer
Without a doubt, the best way to learn is to get directly involved. To get your hands dirty. To become part of the solution.
The best way to learn in a new place, then, is to volunteer.
Ask your local sponsor or employer for advice on how to apply your skills or passions; where can you help most? Then leave your comfort zone behind and serve your new community well. Chances are good that this will be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life.
Find a Local Mentor
Ask a successful professional their secret to success and they just might answer, "Mentors."
After all, mentors keep us focused, reduce learning curves, and introduce solutions we might not have considered. And mentors come in all shapes, sizes...and locations.
As you settle into your travel destination or new home abroad, deliberately seek out local mentors. Not only can they help clarify local customs and business practices, they can introduce you to their personal networks, invite you to local meet-ups and events, and serve as a sounding board during your transition.
Want to embrace the local environment, business and otherwise? Find a local mentor.
Take Your OPEN Circles Global
Today, our personal networks are focused on quality people - and quality connections. And the fact is, those people and connections are available everywhere...influencers and thought leaders sit in all corners of the globe.
A World Gone Social discusses creating OPEN (Ordinary Person | Extraordinary Network) circles. Within these networking circles, you can be confident that you have much in common with your connections. Those contacts could eventually become a partner, collaborator, mentor or friend.
As you travel, expand your OPEN network. Invite people from every place you visit into your circles. Embrace the global wisdom. Your career will thank you later.
Traveling for education and career isn't always easy. However, by seizing the opportunity and obliterating your comfort zones, you will learn and grow - perhaps more than you ever thought possible.
Enjoy the experience!
Mark Babbitt is the co-author of A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive. He is also the CEO and Founder of YouTern, an award-winning social community for young professionals and President of Switch and Shift, which advocates social leadership and the deliberate creation of an optimistic workplace.