If you travel frequently, you know that being on the road can be tough. After just a few days you feel tired and far from home and are anxious to get back to the office. But if you step back for a moment you’ll see that the road (or plane ride) can offer plenty of opportunities to grow your business. From networking to evaluating your company’s long-term goals, traveling can open up solid business opportunities. These guidelines can help boost your company’s future while you’re traveling.
Focus on the Customer
If you're meeting with a client, notice what topics get the most attention. If you’re focusing on the client’s issues, you’re off to a good start. Customers want to be assured that they are getting the most for their money. Meeting in person is your chance to show them what sets you apart from the competition.
Before you meet, decide which company benefits you’d like to highlight. Do you offer free consultations, customized products, fast delivery times, or special discounts? Show your client or potential customers exactly how your company will help them. Also ask what you can do to provide them with even better products and services.
Take Some Quiet Time
If you’re traveling to attend a trade event or conference, things can get hectic fast. Carve out some downtime and spend it alone. Bring along something you can jot notes or ideas on. Take at least 15 minutes in your new environment, even if that means the hotel courtyard, and think about your long-term goals.
Ask yourself where you see the company in five, 10 years. Have you picked up anything during the trip that jump-starts a new idea? You may gather marketing tips, planning strategies, or cost-reduction guidelines during a conference. Try applying the information you gather to your business back home. Sometimes the best ideas come when you’re away from the office and can look at your company from a new perspective.
Make an effort to really listen to the people you come in contact with. Ask for their advice on specific aspects of the business. If you find certain techniques successful, share your thoughts with others.
As you network, keep an open mind. The recent dips in the economy have caused plenty of fears to ripple through the small business sector. At the same time it has given owners a chance to rethink their operations and strategies. By listening, you may hear just what you need to help pull your company through the current recession.
So much of business is based on relationships, and taking the time to build them while on the road can have lasting results. If you’re visiting a new or ongoing client, take him or her out to dinner. Be ready to make a good impression and talk about his or her interests.
For big events, bring along your business cards and look for ways to hand them out. Know your company’s pitch so you can give it whenever it might be needed. At the same time, gather some new business cards from others and take an interest in what they’re doing.
If you’re going to come into contact with a large group of people and feel overwhelmed, make a list of priorities. Single out one or two people at a trade show or other event who you feel can really benefit your business. Talk to them first. After that, look for new acquaintances to make. The people you meet could help you propel your company to the next level.