3 Things to Remember (and 3 to Forget) on Your Next Business Trip
When I was in school, I always wanted a job that would allow me to travel. I studied international politics and foreign languages. I went on cultural exchanges and traveled between semesters. But ironically, it was the work I did closest to campus (I was the news editor at the university paper) that would connect me to a career that let me see the world.
In my role as Pressboard’s Content Manager, I’ve traveled and worked remotely a few times. One of our company perks is the opportunity to attend any conference of your choosing once per year; so far, I’ve attended conferences in Boston, Toronto and even Berlin.
But before last week, I’d never been in a position to actually present in another city before. When my boss invited me to join him on his next pitch meetings in New York City, the stakes felt higher than on previous trips. I couldn’t just sit back and absorb knowledge like a millennial marketing sponge; the onus was on me to bring unique insights that positioned our company as innovators in the content space.
In the six workshops we held over two whirlwind days, many things went well. My advice for letting your brand be vulnerable worked like a charm — my Han Solo impression, not so much. But I definitely came away with some learnings I’ll apply to my next business trip, no matter where it takes me.
Forget: Your Script
If there’s one thing that will serve you well on your business trip, it’s being prepared; if there’s a second thing, it’s being flexible. Not every presentation will go exactly as planned. Read the room and make adjustments on the fly. As long as you know the core messages you’re trying to convey, you’ll be comfortable going off book. Plus, you’ll be able to avoid awkward pauses as you search your memory for what to say next.
Remember: A Change of Clothes
When you’re rushing from meeting to meeting (especially in a city like New York), odds are your feet are going to hurt. Keep a pair of flats on hand in case of taxi-chasing emergencies. Your feet will thank you on the long walk back to the hotel, too.
While we’re on the topic of clothing, if you’re anything like me, you’re definitely going to smush that delicious crab and avocado toast on your white blouse. For the ladies, stash a shirt or dress that won’t wrinkle in your purse. For the men, stow a simple polo shirt in your briefcase. As an added bonus, having an alternate will let you dress down your outfit if you realize you’re walking into a more casual venue than expected.
Views of New York City, from sea to sky.
Forget: What Time it is Back Home
Being from Vancouver, B.C., I was constantly comparing the time difference between there and New York. But if you keep telling yourself it’s only 8 p.m. back home and you don’t need to go to sleep for a few more hours, you’re going to regret it. To avoid lurching through the next day’s meetings in a zombie-like trance, embrace everything about your new home for the next few days — which includes going to bed at a decent hour. It may help to prepare your bag the night before and choose what you’re going to wear. Giving yourself extra time to get ready in the morning will help you feel confident and prepared for what lies ahead.
Remember: Make Time to Sight-see
Seeing a world-class city out the window of your Uber just doesn’t cut it. It’s hard to find time to see the sights when you’re spending every spare moment checking emails or catching up on work, but don’t let yourself get trapped in your hotel room. Look up noteworthy sites near your meetings and hit them up along the way. Get up early and grab a bagel and shmear from a local deli. Even if it’s just a walk around the block so you can catch a glimpse of the Empire State Building, you’ll have something to tell your friends back home.
Forget: Your Age, Your Experience, Your Preconceptions
As one of the youngest members of our company, it was intimidating to walk into rooms with high-level marketers and try to offer something they’d never heard before. However, you don’t have to lead the conversation or try to be someone you’re not in order to contribute. Trust why your boss brought you on the trip and make thoughtful suggestions, relating them to your own experiences as much as possible. Doing so will lend authority to your voice, demonstrate that other clients have trusted your decision-making and let you speak about the things you know best.
Remember: It’s Just Content Marketing
No one ever died because of a flubbed meeting or a delayed email (at least I hope not). So if your presentation goes off the rails, laugh about it in the car, shrug it off and regroup before the next one. You don’t want to leave the people back home who depend on you in the lurch; but if you’ve set expectations for what you’ll be able to accomplish on your trip, no one will be disappointed. Prioritize what you need to get done and what can wait until you’re back from your trip.
When you travel for work, not everything is going to go perfectly. However, you can make things a little easier by being extra prepared, not sweating the small stuff and diving headfirst into whatever city and circumstance you find yourself in.
Once you push outside of your comfort zone, you may find yourself repeating the words of my good friend Han Solo: “You know, sometimes I amaze even myself.”