4 Pieces of Advice You Need to Hear
Before Your First Business Trip
There’s a first time for everything, and even grizzled professionals with more air miles than they can ever use (and encyclopedic knowledge of airport layouts) were once wide-eyed novices feeling sick with worry about their first business trips.
If that seems odd to you, consider that just one business trip can have serious long-term consequences for someone’s career.
If you’re in the position of facing your first business trip, then you need to be prepared. In the best-case scenario, your performance and conduct can impress all the right people and prove greatly beneficial to your overall prospects. In the worse-case scenario, though, you can show yourself to be unreliable and untrustworthy. That’s a substantial and powerful difference.
To help you get ready for this new experience (and position you to get through it unscathed), here are four pieces of advice that everyone should hear ahead of their first business trip:
Safeguard Your Possessions
This applies both to whatever you’re leaving behind (your property if you own any, and anything remaining at your place of residence) and to the things you’re taking with you on your trip (whether they’re necessary for work or intended to make your journey easier). Security is essential and not something to take lightly, however confident you feel.
For the things you’re leaving behind, you should have some kind of protection in place (a strong lock, for instance, or a CCTV system for deterrence), as well as an insurance policy to cover you in the event that the protection doesn’t work.
For anything going with you, take various precautions: use lockable carriers, choose biometric security where possible, never let your bags leave your sight unless they’re in trusted locations, and know how to flag up device theft should things go very wrong. If you have a vital business document stolen due to your casual approach, you’ll rightfully be held responsible.
Know Your Entire Schedule
Where exactly are you going? When do you leave? When must you reach your destination? Are there multiple locations to visit? Will you be meeting with clients? Attending certain events? At any given point, what are you expected to be doing? Yes, you might have these things listed on your phone, but you should know what’s planned without needing to check.
There are two reasons for this: first, it will show to anyone else on the same (or similar) trip that you’re dedicated to your job (it’s always good to demonstrate that), and, second, you can’t know when you might lose internet access and suddenly find yourself awkwardly bereft of any clear direction.
You could (and should) store a copy of the schedule on your phone so you don’t need to access the cloud — but then you’re still at risk of running out of battery power. Carrying a battery pack is also a good idea. You could still lose your phone, or see it stolen. Unlikely, of course, but it never hurts to take precautions, and simply remembering where you’re going isn’t too arduous.
Stay Fed and Hydrated
Some people turn to food and/or drink when they get nervous, but others go in the opposite direction — so it isn’t unheard of for someone new to business trips forgetting that they need to keep their energy levels up by eating regular meals. If you go too long without eating, you’ll get irritable, less able to focus, and generally have issues fulfilling your professional duties.
What you eat and drink also matters, obviously. Social elements are common on business trips, with group meals and pub visits used to allow corporate relationships to deepen, but don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re justified in getting drunk or indulging your appetite to such an extent that you make yourself ill. You’re an adult, and you’re expected to act like one.
It’s best to plan healthy snacks ahead of time, and ensure that you eat little but often. Take fruit, vegetables, sandwiches, and water. You must be careful with hydration in the sense that it can be awkward to become overly hydrated at a bad time, so don’t chug down massive bottles. Instead, drink enough so you’re not thirsty, and always know where nearby bathrooms are.
Be Resolutely Professional
You may be venturing on your first business trip with one or more colleagues, or perhaps you’re going as the lone company representative: either way, you need to ensure that you comport yourself in a way that shows the company in a positive light. Being sociable and talkative should be a good thing overall, but you can take it too far and this could be seen as a sign that you’re immature.
The other pieces of advice we’ve looked at will certainly help with this, but you can’t stop there. If you know you’re going to be meeting certain people, do some research into what they do and how they work — then bring that information to bear when you talk to them. They’ll appreciate that you made the effort to learn about them, and give you a chance to detail your expertise.
In addition, dress smartly. Comfort is important, but if you look incredibly shabby then you’ll make some terrible first impressions. Find a good middle-ground solution: no tie but still a smart shirt, for instance, or a tasteful blouse with a matching sweater. If you need more motivation to do this, consider that you may well end up being photographed at some point.
Let’s quickly recap the suggestions we’ve been through here: protect your possessions at home and away, remember where you need to be (and when), keep your energy levels up through eating and drinking, and show people that you’re a consummate pro. Do all of these things, and your first business trip should be a success.
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About the Author
Kayleigh Alexandra is a content writer for Micro Startups — a site dedicated to giving through growth hacking. Visit the blog for your latest dose of startup, entrepreneur, and charity insights from top experts around the globe.