As a weary road warrior and an expert on good manners, I am writing this article to help readers become more civilized business TRAVELERS. Life for many professionals involves anywhere from minimal to an extraordinary amount of travel. Not only is it time consuming and exhausting (despite the fact that your friends think it sounds exotic), but it is complicated by the fact that the "WORK" still needs to be done, and the business still needs to be managed.
The first step for all road warriors is to be organized and PREPARED. There are four facets to planning:
LET THEM KNOW WHAT'S GOING ON
In advance of the trip, organize your ITINERARY, make sure that everyone in the office (assuming there is staff) is well aware of where you are, and are able to get in touch with you. If you are traveling internationally, don't forget to ensure you have an up-to-date passport and any necessary visas.
WORK WITH YOUR OFFICE FROM THE ROAD
The key to conducting business on the road is to be organized. Have all of the necessary phone NUMBERS with you to keep in touch with your office, and make use of all the availability TECHNOLOGY (e-mail, pagers, etc.). Having an "800" number makes it easier to touch base with the home office. If you have no staff, check your voice-mail regularly, and change your own message so clients will realize you aren't immediately accessible. If possible, give them a number where they can reach you while you on the road.
RESERVATION CONFIRMATION IS KEY
To avoid hassles, make sure that any HOTEL reservations are confirmed -- you certainly don't want to be turned away. Check that car rentals, airport limousine services, and taxis are also confirmed, and that you have proper directions.
AND YOUR MEETINGS, TOO
Also confirm all APPOINTMENTS you have on the road and carry relevant phone numbers with you. Confirming all appointments with clients or prospects ensure that you don't waste time. If you do have to wait, bring extra work to do to make the time productive. Even if you have confirmed appointments, sometimes your clients will have last minute crises or important phone calls they need to take. Being flexible will make your clients appreciative and can score some of those always desired "brownie points." I like to use waiting and travel time to do reports, create presentations, write letters, etc.
TECHNOLOGY: A ROAD WARRIOR'S TRUE FRIEND
Today's technologies allow us to handle business in a TIMELY fashion -- whether we are in our office or on the road. Before leaving for a business trip, make sure all equipment is working and charge all batteries (laptop computer, pager, tape recorder, cell phone, etc.), carry the proper cords and any other necessary equipment.
KEEP IN CONTACT
Today with all the new technologies, it is even easier to stay in TOUCH. Use your e-mail to keep people informed and the Internet to keep yourself informed. Pagers help you stay in touch instantly. Use the voice mail and fax, too. You can also take FedEx or United Parcel Service envelopes, and stamps, so you can send materials back to the office to avoid dragging unnecessary things around -- this can include dirty laundry. If I am away for any period of time, my office FedExes my mail to me so I can be less OVERWHELMED when I get return.
MAKE IT EASIER ON YOURSELF
When booking your hotel accommodations, make sure the room is BUSINESS-FRIENDLY (fax service, proper phone lines for modems, desks for working space). Then, once you arrive in your room, make it homey. You might be spending considerable amounts of time there. I know some people on long business trips who bring photos of family members!
ROAD TRIPS DON'T HAVE TO MEAN ROAD WEARY
It's crucial while on the road to stay in good shape and to PAMPER yourself a little. Try to exercise regularly (most hotels have gyms), limit the fattening foods and get some sleep. Along these lines, consider bringing bottled water and healthy snacks to have during your flight or to keep in hotel room refrigerators. Stay away from hotel "mini bars" -- they usually are costly just to break the seal, and rarely have nutritious food or beverages.
KEEP YOUR PERSONAL CONNECTIONS
Sure, business travel is about business -- but never forget about your FAMILY either. Make sure your spouse knows your itinerary, and if you're traveling to interesting locales, bring gifts home for children and husbands or wives.
DON'T FORGET THE IMPORTANT THINGS
The number one potential problem facing a true road warrior is to finding the right BALANCE between business travel and a personal life. Don't get so caught up in your work that you lose sight of important things like birthdays and anniversaries. If you do, it's time to get off the road and be an office warrior again.
Marjorie Brody, MA, CSP, CMC, is an internationally recognized expert and motivational speaker on career enhancement and corporate etiquette, connects people to potential. She grooms corporate leaders in savvy communication and polished presentation skills · She is author of 15 books, including "Speaking is an Audience-Centered Sport", and "Help! Was That a Career Limiting Move?" You may contact her at 800-726-7936, or visit her web site at www.BrodyCommunications.com.
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