For my engagements speaking to business professionals about networking, I travel several months a year. When traveling (especially internationally) I try very hard not to forget the important items that I need for meetings or for speaking to groups of people…but I admit it’s hard to remember everything all the time.
Last month, I did an interview with an international magazine on this very topic. The reporter asked me, “What should business people think about taking with them on business trips that they might not normally think about?” I thought this list would benefit anyone taking a trip, so I decided to share it here.
Here are a few somewhat-less-obvious things that can certainly come in handy…
- Plenty of business cards. It is never a good idea to run out of business cards while traveling. Tuck extras in your suit pockets, wallet/purse, briefcase, luggage, etc. I put stacks in many places to ensure I always have extra.
- A name badge. If you do any networking while traveling on business, have your own professional name badge. Don’t rely on the hosting organization to do your name badge (and to do it right).
- Extra pens. Make sure you have a pen with you while you are doing meetings. I always find that I need to write some reminders down while I’m talking to people. It’s troublesome to track down a pen while you are busy networking.
- The contact information (or business cards) of all your referral partners. I sometimes find that having that information at my fingertips allows me to give referrals to people while I’m out networking.
- Hand sanitizer. I know this may sound a little bit like Adrian Monk, the obsessive-compulsive germaphobe title character of the television series Monk. But I have found that since I’ve started using hand sanitizer after shaking many, many hands, that I have been getting far fewer colds than I used to get. Just be tactful about the way you use it. Don’t desperately and obviously spray your hands every time you shake someone’s hand!
- Breath mints. As obvious as this may sound , I can assure you from experience that many people have no idea they need them! You might not realize it, but you need them too.
- A memory stick. Many times I have either needed to get a copy of something or give a copy of a file or presentation to people while out networking. Having a memory stick handy has been very helpful on several occasions.
- A camera or video. A camera is great if you want to memorialize some occasion or a meeting with someone important to you. A video is important for anyone who blogs. It gives you a chance to interview someone during your travels. I do this almost every time I travel.
- Tools for your business. For me, that includes many copies of my bio for introductions whenever I speak. Despite the fact that my team sends the bio in advance, there are many times when I arrive and the hosts don’t have the bio handy. Another tool for me is a PowerPoint remote clicker. This is really important for me because I don’t want to rely on someone else to move the slides forward as a I present. Also, you know that memory stick I mentioned earlier? I have copies of my talk(s) on one just in case the group I’m speaking to has misplaced my presentation material.
When I asked some colleagues and other business travelers what they would add to the list, they added some that I hadn’t thought of!
Here are some of their suggestions that most would find vital to include on a business trip:
- A phone charger. I agree heartily, especially seeing how much these items cost in an airport, or in another country. And you certainly won’t want to forget your laptop power cord – besides being expensive it’s often impossible to be able to get the right one easily, if at all. Also, you should write a “note to self” to fully charge all of your electronic devices the night before you leave!
- Power adapter/converter. Though it’s usually easy to pick up a universal adapter at airports or stores in heavily populated areas, in this electronic age you would hate to need one and not be able to find it, so it’s best to have one (or two) packed and ready when you need it!
- The right clothes. Most of you have experienced differences in temperature or weather from one town to another, so you can imagine how different the conditions could be across the country or around the world! It’s never been easier to plan what clothes to bring, thanks to online weather forecasts for every region of the earth. (Of course, there are no guarantees where weather is concerned!)
- A good book. Hear, hear! Those airport layovers, delays, and long flights can seem even longer without something interesting to read.
There are certainly more items to include, but these items can certainly make or break an important business trip. So you definitely do not want to forget them!
Called the “father of modern networking” by CNN, Dr. Ivan Misner is a New York Times bestselling author. He is the Founder and Chairman of BNI, the world’s largest business networking organization. His newest book can be viewed at www.BusinessNetworkingandSex.com. Dr. Misner is also the Sr. Partner for the Referral Institute, an international referral training company.