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How to Build Connections and Create Boundless Opportunities



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Even if you meet someone 30 times for coffee, it’ll never equate to the connection that forms when you’re trying to change a flat tire together on a remote island without cell service. (Yes, that happened to me.) That’s why I’ve made it a personal mission to create memorable group trips that provide space to share experiences and grow relationships (ideally with no flat tires).

I started hosting curated trips in college for my business society. As I entered the workforce, I began theming trips around learning new skills, bonding over specific topics, or going on unforgettable experiences. My goal is to handpick professional contacts for trips that accelerate bonding and promote collaboration.

If you’re thinking you’d love to go on a trip but don’t have the time, I challenge you to reframe your thought process. These trips aren’t just vacations — they’re opportunities to learn something new, build deeper relationships, reflect, recharge, and invest in your future success. Group trips are a way to access people for longer periods than you otherwise would and bond over topics outside of work. Plus, you can outsource a lot of the planning, which is a huge benefit as a busy professional.

How Group Trips Prompt Self-Reflection, New Opportunities, and Growth

For years, I attended Jeff Bezos’ annual, invite-only MARS retreat. At this event, top leaders in machine learning, automation, robotics, and space gather to listen to thought-provoking lectures about the future of technology, bond over meals, and engage in activities such as hiking and martial arts. In just a few days, people with similar professional interests meet and form long-lasting connections.

These retreats are some of the most productive “workcations” I’ve attended. They gave me time to self-reflect on my own work, learn from thought leaders, and turn professional contacts into friends. After every MARS retreat, new businesses form and people change roles. These retreats are fun and successful, driving new ideas, strong partnerships, and individual growth.

The MARS retreat resembles many of the trips I’ve been doing for 15 years, and it’s the perfect playbook for planning a professional getaway. 

Here are the five key ingredients for success:

  1. Curation. Curate a group based on a common thread: an interest in meditation, experiences as women finance executives, etc. It’s important to handpick the right mix of people to ensure they get something valuable out of the trip.
  2. Purpose. There must be an explicit purpose for the trip. For example, if you want to host a meditation retreat, you should plan to spend three hours each day meditating and bringing in teachers. You can use the rest of the time for general bonding and group activities.
  3. Length. The trip should be at least three and a half days to give people time to build meaningful connections. (This does not include travel time.)
  4. Quality. My recommendation for a three-to-five-day trip is about 20 people. But if you want to maximize your efforts, you could invite up to 100.
  5. Downtime. Each day should have a few hours of downtime for the group to recharge and connect.

“The time to build a network is always before you need one.” – Douglas Conant

Group Trips Aren’t as Difficult to Plan as You Might Think

Remember, group trips are an investment in your future success. To make them more feasible from a planning perspective, try out these three types of trips:

1. Center your trip on learning a new skill for self-development.

Everyone has hobbies and skills they want to learn, so use those as conduits to bring people together and bond with professional contacts. For instance, pre-pandemic, a group of entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley went on annual kitesurfing trips around the world (including Richard Branson’s Necker Island). Hire a company that does custom tours to learn something new, such as mountaineering, sailing, or cooking. These companies will set a price and then usually take care of everything once you touch down — all you have to do is book a flight.

I did a four-person girls’ trip to French Polynesia, where we spent a week getting our catamaran skipper certifications. It was one of the most fun trips I’ve ever taken. We all studied together to take tests, practiced our skills on the catamaran, and bonded over a common goal. We also had a blast swimming with sharks, cooking meals together off the boat, and sailing around Bora Bora. We still regularly chat on our WhatsApp group about sailing and have been looking for more ways to put our certification to use.

2. Use pre-planned trips to meet new people.

Many companies offer incredible journeys with set dates, prices, and itineraries. You can travel at a better rate by inviting specific people you’d like to get to know on these trips. A couple of examples of ones I personally like are El Camino Travel (small group travel for women); For the Love of Travel (small group travel for Millennials); Modern Adventure (luxury culinary and wine tours); Abercrombie & Kent (global luxury tours); &Beyond (small group safaris); Nat- Geo Expeditions (history- and culture-themed trips); and Healing Holidays (wellness retreats).

“Your communication skills are your greatest strength as an entrepreneur. You have to know what to say when networking, team building, and talking with investors. Going on a group trip expands your professional circle and allows you to encounter new social situations that can help you grow as a communicator” – says Milosz Krasinski, Managing Director at Chilli Fruit Web Consulting.

3. Book a villa at a destination with many bonding activities.

I recommend the Caribbean for this approach! Look for homes that have a concierge or staff. These individuals can help you with responsibilities such as cooking, cleaning, or booking activities to remove those day-to-day stresses so you can focus on bonding with the people you’re traveling with. I curated a five-night trip to the Cayman Islands with 20 handpicked people where we all stayed in the same house. It was basically a summer camp for adults. We did night kayaking in a bioluminescent bay, sailing, and group yoga.

Many people on the trip didn’t know one another, but they were all Millennial tech professionals. This common thread created an opportunity for folks to have hours-long conversations. Have your guests facilitate events or conversations that play to their strengths. While on our trip, one individual hosted a yoga class, another taught everyone about body posture, and a third gave a lecture on trends in the tech industry. By planning daily events and topic-based meals, you force people to open up, reflect, and be vulnerable in front of each other.

Making time for group travel — not to mention handling the logistics — can seem daunting with your busy schedule. But you will be glad you took the leap. The growth you’ll experience will be more than worth it.

Sasha Hoffman is a travel expert, business strategist, investor, and entrepreneur who’s worked for companies such as Uber, Piaggio Group, and Goldman Sachs. Sasha has been to over 100 countries and has married her innate ability to find great deals and design unique experiences with her passion for travel, curating luxury, purpose-driven trips for professional women to learn new skills and see remote parts of the world. Connect with Sasha on LinkedIn.

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How to Choose the Best Affiliate Programs for Your Blog

If you follow these steps, you can create an affiliate marketing plan that makes money, fits well with your content, and connects with your readers



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Picking the right affiliate programs for your blog is really important. It can make a big difference in how much money you can make and how much your readers get out of your blog. With so many choices out there, deciding which ones to go with can be tricky. 

This guide is here to make it easier for you. It will give you clear steps and helpful tips to choose affiliate programs that fit well with what your blog is about, what your readers like, and what you stand for. 

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Understanding Affiliate Marketing

Before you start picking affiliate programs, it’s important to really understand what affiliate marketing is and how it works. 

Basically, affiliate marketing is when you promote a product or service on your blog, and then you get paid a little bit every time someone buys something or does something because you recommended it. 

It’s great for both the person selling the product and the blogger, because the seller gets more sales with low risk, and the blogger can make money from their blog.

How to Choose the Right Affiliate Programs for Your Blog

1. Assess Your Niche and Audience

The key to doing well in affiliate marketing starts with really knowing what your blog is about and who reads it. Consider the following:

  • Your blog’s content: What topics do you cover? Ensure the products or services you promote are relevant.
  • Your audience’s interests and needs: What solutions are they seeking? Choose affiliate programs that offer products or services that solve their problems or enhance their lives.

2. Research Potential Affiliate Programs

Once you know what your blog is about and what your readers want, start looking for affiliate programs. Choose ones that are well-known for good products, great customer service, and helpful support for affiliates. Resources to find these programs include:

  • Affiliate networks like ShareASale, Commission Junction, and ClickBank.
  • Direct searches for “[Your Niche] affiliate programs” in search engines.
  • Recommendations from other bloggers in your niche.

3. Evaluate the Commission Structure

The commission structure is a critical factor to consider. Look for programs that offer competitive rates that make your efforts worthwhile. Consider:

  • The percentage of commission per sale.
  • Whether the program offers a flat rate per action (e.g., per sign-up).
  • The cookie duration, which affects how long after a click you can earn commissions on sales.

4. Consider the Program’s Reputation and Sureness

Join affiliate programs with a solid reputation for quality and sureness. This not only ensures that you’re promoting good products but also that you’ll be paid on time. You can:

  • Read reviews from other affiliates.
  • Check the program’s history and background.
  • Look for any complaints or issues reported online.

5. Analyze the Support and Resources Offered

A good affiliate program gives you things like ads to use, training on their products, and helpful managers. Having access to these resources can really help you do a better job at promoting their products.

6. Understand the Terms and Conditions

Before signing up, thoroughly review the program’s terms and conditions. Pay close attention to:

  • Payment thresholds and methods.
  • Any restrictions on how you can promote their products.
  • The program’s policy on affiliate marketing on social media platforms.

7. Test the Product or Service

If possible, test the product or service before promoting it. This firsthand experience allows you to offer genuine charge and build trust with your audience.

8. Look for Recurring Commission Opportunities

Some affiliate programs pay you again and again for subscriptions or services that charge fees regularly. These can provide a more stable income compared to one-time sales commissions.

Implementing Your Choice

After choosing the best affiliate programs, the next step is to smoothly include your affiliate marketing in your content plan. This includes:

  • Creating valuable content that naturally incorporates affiliate links.
  • Disclosing your affiliate affairs transparently to maintain trust with your audience.
  • Tracking your results to understand what works best for your audience and adjusting your strategy accordingly.

Picking the best affiliate programs for your blog involves careful planning, research, and making sure they match what your audience likes and needs. 

If you follow these steps, you can create an affiliate marketing plan that makes money, fits well with your content, and connects with your readers. 

The real key to doing well with affiliate marketing isn’t just about the products you talk about, but also how much your audience trusts and values your advice. 

With enough time, patience, and hard work, your blog can grow into a successful space that earns a good amount of affiliate money and helps your readers choose the right products.

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