I just came back from a 40 day, 9,400 mile motorcycle book tour. I visited 34 states and connected with thousands of people. Long trips are great for helping us see patterns and insights we might otherwise miss.
Keith Ferrazzi was right when he wrote in his book, Never Eat Alone, "build it before you need it." What he meant by this is that the time to build a network is NOT after we decide we want a new job. The network has to be already built and the relationships formed.
I had many amazing experiences on this tour and nearly all of them can be connected to people who I had known in a virtual way but may not have met. People who read my blog, other bloggers, and others who have connected with my work and then me. I connected with these folks in Brookings, Santa Rosa, Roseville, Santa Clara, Tucson, Birmingham, Atlanta, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Chicago, Milwaukee, Fargo, Grand Junction, Salt Lake City, and Boise (and several near misses in Portland, Des Moines, Minneapolis). And an amazing thing happened when I met these folks for the first time in person: The conversation did not start at the beginning – we picked right up where we last left off from our virtual relationships.
In the cities where I had these connections, the book talks and signings were better, bigger, and/or more interesting. The network I had built over the last few years served me in many ways on the tour. Did I know that I would need them for this trip? No, and had I planned it that way it would not have been genuine and would not have worked. Real relationships are not managed.
I don’t know if I appreciated the importance of this community before this trip. They are a group of wonderful, interesting, and caring people who I feel honored to have met in person. And I am ready and eager to be their catalysts when and if needed.
And there were many other folks who I did not meet but who added energy to tour by following my progress and expressing interest and concern. I think many people were worried about me – and this was nice to know. Suffice it to say that I felt in the company of many friends as I rumbled through each state.
In the cities where I did not know anyone, the experience was different. I enjoyed seeing the place, but it did not feel magical or special. From a motorcycle touring standpoint, I found the Sonoran Desert, Badlands and Black Hills, and the Rocky Mountains inspiring. But from an overall tour perspective, nothing tops the people connections.
And this trend translated itself into a few other experiences. For example, I ended up changing a lot of hotel reservations a few days into the tour. When I travel for business, I generally stay in Marriott hotels because I think their beds, internet, and service are better. For the tour, I booked a lot of Best Westerns to save a few bucks (paying for 40 nights worth of hotels is not cheap at any price). After the first few Best Western stays (not the best experiences) I realized I was being foolish. I value the quality of Marriotts so much more – even their low end Fairfield hotels – than the Best Westerns. Their people seem more caring and well trained. So I canceled over 20 reservations and switched. What a difference real comfort and peace of mind makes when traveling.
I have always been attracted to forging new territories and exploring new grounds. And I honestly had downplayed my desire for, or need for, relationships. I have a different perspective now. I want to explore, move out onto the edge, and forge new territories, but I want to do these things in a way that also builds and fuels great human connections.
I want to collaborate and partner more as a result of this solo trip. Weird, huh?
Thanks to everyone who helped to make the trip memorable and a success. Some people ask me if I sold a lot of books. Sure, books were sold, but the real success for me is that I was able to connect with so many people about how to catalyze breakthroughs and have in-person conversations with many smart people who I had previously known in a virtual way.
This makes me think about the growth of social networking and its potential. I think when social networking leads to real human connection, that’s a great thing. Blogs are great facilitators of this. I am not so sure about podcasts or LinkedIn in this regard. Your thoughts?
I want to do more to bring virtual relationships to life and am eager to participate in more events and informal gatherings that facilitate this. On my list for next year is SOBCon and Bigger Small Talk, for sure, and perhaps others. And I would be happy to speak or help out at any of these. Maybe a group can ride over to these events on motorcycles? Hey, Rosa, how ’bout a gathering in Hawaii? Personally, I would love to see a small group work session in the Arizona/New Mexico area in the Fall or Spring. Perhaps – "Floating new Ideas" during the Albuquerque Balloon Festival.
Count me in!
Guest Author: Lisa Haneberg, author of Two Weeks to a Breakthrough, How to Zoom Toward Your Goal in 14 Days or Less. Her book’s blog is here, and it shares many more details about her amazing motorcycle tour. For instance, I could not resist sharing the picture below with you! Click on it to take you to the breakthrough story. Be sure you also visit Lisa at Management Craft.
As for that gathering in Hawai’i, early ideas are cooking Lisa! Hazel will probably need to stay home though…