As any successful entrepreneur or businessperson knows, there is nothing that replaces having a face to face conversation, meeting someone in person, and making that personal connection while traveling for business. That said, it also important to recognize that with the deluge of technology options out there, especially for Millennial and Gen-Z entrepreneurs and businesspeople, that business travel can be seen as an inconvenience rather than a business tool.
Even with articles on how to save while traveling, how to successfully travel moneyhack your business trips, and how to maximize points while you are on the road, business travel can be a real drag. Delays and cancelled flights, checked bag fees, and the reality that traveling for business costs money can create a mindset that does not emphasize the importance of doing business face-to-face. Especially with tools like Skype, Adobe Connect, WebEx, and FaceTime it may just seem easier, cheaper, and simpler to do business remotely.
As a Millennial who uses technology quite a bit, but who also travels quite a bit for work and conferences, there are some definite downsides to business travel that cannot be ignored. Acknowledging this, however, also gives you and your business an opportunity to differentiate themselves as you hustle for business, develop new products and services, and expand current service to existing customers. Like the phrase "it's not what you know, it's who you know," the simple fact is that, even with technology tools, there are plenty of times where it is necessary, and even beneficial, to travel for business.
Let's take a look at a few ways to make the most of your time on the road that are both easy on your wallet, and help you maximize your time away for business.
1. Come prepared
There are few things as frustrating as being unprepared for a situation, especially if you are on the road to network or bring in new business. Too many times business travel can morph into a blend of handshakes, meeting people, but leaving without making meaningful connections. Make sure your social media is current, that you have whatever materials or samples you want to share, and that you have business cards -- either digital or hard copies.
2. Actively listen to others
It is always important to pay attention whenever you are speaking with people, but doubly important if you are on the road for business or networking. The entire reason why you are on the road in the first place is to hopefully make meaningful connections. Ask questions, appear interested, and more importantly, be interested. The best part is that being actively engaged costs you nothing since you are there anyway, and enables you to make an impression that is hard for others to copy.
3. Remember why you are there
Even if you are not traveling for your own business or entrepreneurial venture, and are just on the road for a work-related conference or presentation, it is easy to lose track of the opportunity of being on the road. Think about it -- you and everyone else who is there is there because you are all interested in whatever topic is being discussed, want to do business, and are looking to make connections. Staying focused on this, even when the business trip takes you to places like Las Vegas, can help you make the most of your time there.
Business travel, even in the age of technology, analytics, and social media, still oftentimes requires you to take your "show" on the road. Meeting people interested in the same things you are, making meaningful connections, and laying the foundation for future business opportunities are key benefits of doing some business face to face. Importantly, especially entrepreneurs and otherwise ambitious individuals, it is essential to make the most of your time on the road so that your efforts, energy, and money help you build your business and brand.