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Networking Tour 2024

Networking Tour 2024

In March this year I went on my second networking tour. Check out my daily diary entries (originally posted on LinkedIn) to see what I got up to! So what was it all about? Read on to find out how it worked and what the benefits were.

What’s a networking tour?

The short answer is that it’s anything you want it to be! What I did was plan a ten-day trip to the UK, by train, to meet up with various language professionals and other small business owners and attend a conference.

First step: Buy an Interrail pass! I never went interrailing as a student and this was my chance to do it, admittedly in a sedate, middle-aged manner 😊 There are lots of flexible Interrail options these days, and the pass I chose allowed me ten days of travel (not necessarily consecutive) within a two-month period. Two of those days can be used to leave/return to your home country, and the rest need to be in other countries. I actually ended up getting the ten-day pass for the price of the seven-day one because there was a deal on. More info at

I travelled from Germany, across France, to the UK. My tour took me first to Winchester, then up to Manchester, and then, having visited enough places ending in -chester, down to Birmingham for the UpLift Live conference.

In all the different locations, I met up with translators and other small-business owners, some whom I’d met before in real life and others whom I’d only spoken to on Zoom. I had lots of conversations about being a translator, freelance life in general, work–life balance, self-care, and all the other kinds of topics that come up when you’re chatting with nice people.

Mindful of my energy and the need to get some translation work done in between get-togethers, I planned most of my appointments in the 11 am to 3 pm slot. So I had plenty of time around that to wander, do some geocaching, write up my experiences for LinkedIn or even – gosh! – work.


Tour days: 10

Countries crossed: 3

Distance travelled: 1843 km

Trains: 21 (not including city metros/tube)

Cities stayed in: 3

Networking buddies: 11 (Plus 180 or so attendees at the UpLift live conference!)

Not to mention undisclosed amounts of coffee, carrot cake, millionaire’s shortbread and ale!


Why go on a networking tour?

Have fun

I have to admit that the initial ‘why’ when I planned my first networking tour in 2023 came from having virtual coffees with LinkedIn contacts based in the UK and thinking, “Wouldn’t it be fun to meet in person?” I’m a big believer that my work should be fun. Having left a well-paid corporate job because I wasn’t enjoying it, I feel I owe it to my past self to make sure I have fun with what I’m doing now. Otherwise I could have just stayed where I was and kept the money.

But the more I thought about the idea, the more I realised that there’d be lots of business benefits, too.

Top up my Britishness

I live in Germany and translate from German into English. Being based in my source-language country certainly has its benefits. I have better access to potential clients, am immersed in the culture and am confident speaking German because I do it on a daily basis.

But the other side of that coin is that I need to keep my English up-to-date. Not just by visiting family and friends, but also by talking to first-language English speakers who are doing the same kinds of things as I do. How do they talk about their businesses, about social media trends, developments in AI, etc? A lot of this trip was about immersing myself in that world so that my English stays fresh.

Meet other translators and business owners

Being a sole trader can be isolating, especially if you work from home. You have to take on a lot of different roles, and yet I sometimes feel that the hardest part is staying focused and keeping the momentum going.

So it’s helpful to get out and talk to other people in the same position. You might get tips and tricks about tools, techniques or ways of working, have a laugh about something that’s gone wrong or simply find out that others feel the same way as you do. Spending time with people in the same or neighbouring professions gives me a real boost.

Get out of the office

A change of scene works wonders. It gives you a different perspective. I often get my best ideas when I’m out and about and my thoughts have a chance to wander. Taking a step back helps me see the big picture and think a bit more strategically about what I want to do with my business, rather than getting bogged down in the day-to-day tasks.

Take online relationships into the real world

LinkedIn, Zoom and co. are brilliant for finding like-minded people around the globe whom we probably wouldn’t have met or stayed connected with otherwise. I love the way social media introduces me to people and I like to take it further and meet up in real life if possible.

With video calls being so good, I sometimes start to forget that meeting a real human being without a screen in between can be a much richer experience. Like when you grow your own tomatoes and suddenly realise that the supermarket ones, which seemed pretty good, are actually quite bland in comparison. Virtual coffees and all that are a wonderful thing, lots of fun and sometimes the only way to connect. But if I have a chance to meet someone in real life, then I’ll try to do that. If nothing else, you can find out how tall people are 😊

What I learned

Here are some of the things that I learned on last year’s and this year’s tours.

Travel light

On last year’s tour I flew to the UK and hired a car, so I never had to carry my luggage very far. I didn’t think I’d over-packed, but afterwards I realised there were things I’d taken and not used/worn. This year, with that experience and knowing I’d be travelling by train, I was more selective about what to take. I had a hand-luggage-sized case, my laptop rucksack and a bum bag for my phone and money, plus a little roll-up rucksack to use as a day pack. I did get a bit bored of rotating the same clothes by the end, but it was worth it for the feeling of freedom and being able to swing my case up onto overhead luggage racks.

One bit of kit I really enjoyed having with me was my new Bluetooth keyboard. Logitech MX Mechanical Mini if anyone’s interested. It’s tiny but still has ‘proper’ keys that are easier to touch type on than my laptop keypad. And having a separate keyboard meant I could put my laptop itself up a bit higher for a more ergonomic experience.

Travelling by train is definitely doable

When I first thought about doing my tour by train, I was slightly concerned about possible delays and cancellations. But for the most part, everything went very well. I only got stuck once, on my way from Winchester to Manchester on day four. I was supposed to change trains at London’s Euston station. But when I got there, I found there were no trains going in or out. Signal failures further north, apparently. Luckily, my parents live in London, so I decided to go to their place for the night. I caught an early train the next morning and was still able meet Lisa de Caux in Manchester as planned. I loved travelling by train and will definitely do it that way again.

Think about your energy

I’ve learned to avoid overscheduling myself. We all have different amounts of social energy – be aware of yours and plan accordingly. It might seem like a good idea to pack in as many meet-ups as possible, but you want to make sure you can get through the whole tour without getting peopled out.

Leave room for the unexpected

Part of the fun of travelling is being spontaneous. When I met Bettina Röhricht in Chorley, for example, I realised that I wasn’t all that far from the west coast. So I fitted in a cheeky trip to Blackpool to paddle in the sea, gaze at the horizon, wander along the pier and visit the iconic Blackpool Tower. My unexpected trip to the seaside was definitely a highlight!

Do what suits you

I tend to get up early and then also get tired early in the evening, so I didn’t plan any late meetings over dinner, for example. You don’t have to assemble a group of twenty colleagues for beers if you prefer one-to-one conversations over a cup of coffee and a slice of carrot cake. And vice-versa, of course.

I enjoy going to multi-day conferences, but I can also find them overwhelming. A networking tour is a fun way to get out and about and meet people I’d like to get to know better, while also having time to rest, reflect and recharge in between.

Over to you

My tour was quite extensive, but you could adapt this kind of networking to meet your own needs. It’s fun to reach out to other business-owners in your city or local area. Or if you’re planning to visit somewhere, you might have LinkedIn contacts there who’d like to join you for coffee, lunch or a bit of sightseeing. My networking buddies on this tour were all people I’d previously interacted with on LinkedIn, so we already knew that we had things in common and were likely to get on. When we met in person, we could dive straight into a good conversation.

I thoroughly recommend this kind of tour and would love to hear about it if you’ve done something similar or are planning to.