Have you ever been to a networking event? Of course, you have. It’s kind of a buzz-word for a few years, where people show up to make new connections.. Now, let me ask you this: How many times have you left with an empty feeling, tired and as if you were on 20 speed-interviews in 2 hours? I think you know what I am talking about: networking for the sake of seeking business connections, when people just sniff around you to see if you are useful to them. It is fast, forced and in my opinion: pretty impersonal. Creating a real connection needs time, attention, honest curiosity and wholeheartedness. It shouldn’t have a purpose. That should come after.
The first time I heard about the Nomad Cruise, I was pretty skeptical. Accommodation, travel, food, and booze, plus some knowledge sharing, all included? Yeah, I have to admit, I went to the cruise with a pretty shallow mindset. I had no idea what nearly 2 weeks at sea would bring into my life: a place in the world where I, as a nomad felt at home: my community, my network. I hadn’t just met a few people, for a few hours, and talked about my business. Instead, I shared moments, created memories, danced, laughed or just sat in silence with people who shared my values. I left the cruise with an ever-growing, honest real network of people. As Johannes, the founder always says: The cruise is just the beginning.
This is why we have so many people coming back again and again to the cruises. We finally found where we belong after so many places where we only “fit in”. There is a difference between belonging and fitting in.
“Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be to be accepted. Belonging, on the other hand, doesn’t require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are.” Brene Brown
These communities are value-based, not … you know: location-based. Like how we were brought up in one city and became friends with the neighbor kid or our school mates. We used to make friends based on who was there. Now, as adults, many times these people simply don’t get us, because these friendships are no longer based on values we share.
After my first cruise, I also fell in love with the community because I felt, here, I’m not weird, and the people around me understand me. Slowly I got more and more involved in the creation and curation of Nomad Cruise.
What creates this Magic?
So why Nomad Cruise? What makes it so unique that you rarely find at any other conference? How is it possible that this cruise creates one of the biggest and strongest nomad networks?
Many people ask if we work non-stop on the cruise, cause based on Instagram, you see nomads working on beaches and in hammocks even. (Yeah, right…). Funnily enough, the majority of the people who arrive for the cruise don’t bring their work with them, nor do they buy the internet deal. We do have internet, but of course, as we are in the middle of the ocean most of the time, it’s not good enough for working in the flow.
When was the last time you went to a restaurant, and you didn’t check your phone, nor did anyone else at the dinner table for that matter? When was the last time, you didn’t need to pick up your phone, 30-130 times a day because you got a notification?
After the first 3 days, you slowly begin to get into a more relaxed state. That’s when you realize, you can dedicate your time and energy to the people around you. There is no escape back to your comfort zone, here, on the cruise, you actually ARE here and have to be present. Even if it is weird in the beginning. But ohh lord it’s worth it. After a two-week cruise, opening up my phone doesn’t create that dopamine hit anymore, I am not interested in posting, or reading about people I don’t personally know. The heaviness of Social Media is lifted.
Dinner Dates with random people
Every night we have seated dinners. Two hours of sitting still with 6-8 other people, enjoying a nice meal and talking. Well, at first, chatting and after a few days: really talking. By this time people forget to ask the typical questions: where are you from, what do you do, because there is a limited amount of time that you can have the exact same conversations. So people start to have really awesome authentic discussions during this time. You simply know, you will be sitting next to these two people for two hours, so the conversation should and will go deeper, than a “handshake pitch”.
No decision fatigue
Once I heard somewhere that you can make only 21 decisions a day, and then decision fatigue hits in. Well, if no-where else, on this cruise, it’s made easy for you. No decision needed of where to eat, (ok you do need to figure out what to eat), or where to get your coffee, or what to do that day. Everything you need is right there, on the cruise.
Committing to strangers
Commitment is hard for a nomad. Saying yes to staying on the same boat for 2 weeks with hundreds of nomads needs courage. I remember, when I joined NC 3, I thought to myself, that out of 150 people there has to be at least one person who is cool. This girl I met on the cruise (and who has since become one of my best friends) was thinking, if she didn’t find anyone cool, she could just hang out in her cabin the whole time. Now we just laugh about those fears. The reality is: For some reason, NC is a melting pot for like-minded people: Interested in business, travel and personal development. And also those who have similar morals. (After a few cruises we ended up creating these into our Seven Principles).
I don’t really care where you are from…
I mean, I might ask you when we meet, just to break the ice, but after all, I don’t care. It happens often that I simply forget where you come from, but I do remember that great conversation we had or that time that we did acro on deck 7 and laughed until we cried. And you know what? It’s not only about the country. We have unspoken equality here: it also doesn’t matter where you are in your career, or how much money you make. There is no cool-kids table. We are all approachable -including the speakers, the hosts, the founder and that dude who just won an Emmy.
Dancing and Party
Let’s not forget that we end our nights at the pool bar, and on the dance floor, or in a musical jam session. Another smart person once said that if you want to network: eat, laugh and dance with the same people. Then you talk about business.
Careful curation and community architecture
I am going to be honest, some of the elements of this community building came through luck. We had no idea that having dinner together every day is so important. Or that the fact that unstable wifi would be a gift, not an annoyance.
Yes, first we got lucky. But then we became extremely conscious of our role and responsibility for connecting people. After all, creating a community is not just inviting people to the same spot and waiting for the magic to happen. There is actually a whole science behind a value-based community. The Nomad Cruise team uses many tools and building blocks to create the magic that makes people feel homesick for the cruise, and makes members of this community become a family. Encouraging honest communication, skill-sharing, openness, and all this without any bullshit. And that is unique.
“The cruise is just the beginning”
Have you ever been to a conference, where you were told, it would be a life-changing experience? Well, when I hear this my stomach turns. Many events use these words to attract people, sell more tickets and I just don’t feel any honesty in it. Plus, ‘hey! My life is pretty awesome, please don’t change it’.
So I am not going to say that Nomad Cruise is a life-changing experience. I will let you decide if it is for you.
For me personally, it did bring peace. It is great to know that I am not alone in search of something different, a new, free way of living. What’s more: I have all these amazing, inspiring and smart people everywhere in the world, who are just like me! Many of them have become part of my close circle, the ones I call when I need a virtual shoulder to cry, or when I want to share my happiness. We meet not only on the cruise, but we also make sure we cross paths many times during the year: from Bali to Rio, from Lisbon to Cape Town. We travel, we discover, we play, we encourage, we inspire, we collaborate and we make each other accountable.
We are finally reinventing the purpose of networking: we connect to belong.
About the Author:
Bori is the Program Manager and Community Architect of Nomad Cruise.
She joined us on Nomad cruise 3, as a participant, but since 2017 she is part of the core team. According to Bori, her happy place is the conference stage and her favorite activity onboard is the sunset drinks.