There usually comes a point when you need to attend a convention, conference or some type of out of town meeting for the first time as a new business owner.
While this is a great moment for your business, you need to be careful. Don't make the common mistakes novice business professionals are faced with when attending their first overnight event. One wrong step can hurt your business prospects and alienate potential clients, customers, and business partners.
Pack Light, Pack Smart
It's important to know your schedule before you even start packing. Know how many formal business meetings, informal happy hours and professional dinners you will attend. A good staple piece for your wardrobe is a plain black blazer. Why? Because you can wear it multiple times without raising eyebrows and it goes with everything!
- By having a few simple, well-made pieces of clothing that you can mix and match, you'll have more than enough outfits without over packing. You don't want to walk into a hotel with huge suitcases. You'll give off the impression of being inefficient and difficult; two things that can hurt potential partnerships or business relationships.
Consolidate Your Technology
No one wants to carry around all of their technology when traveling -- phones, music players, laptops and tablets. On the other hand, no one wants to be without anything they may need. So what's the solution? Consolidate.
- If you know you'll need to access email during your trip, make sure your IT department sets up your tablet to receive work emails. Without having to bring your laptop you're saving space and eliminating the risk of theft or damage.
- If you'll need access to documents or presentations, make sure your tablet is set up to access and load them. It's easier than ever to take notes with tablets, and built-in cameras make it easy to check in with loved ones during your trip.
Carrying around an unnecessary amount of technology can look excessive, especially when you can access everything you need from one device. Look practical and well-put together by having everything you need in one easy-to-access place.
Make All of Your Reservations Ahead of Time
There's nothing more embarrassing than showing up to a restaurant with a client you're trying to impress and the hostess tells you they're booked for the night. Chances are you knew about this dinner meeting ahead of time, so why didn't you make a reservation? Your time is valuable, and so is your client's. Respect that.
Don't Push Yourself
If you know that you don't function at 100% without a full night of sleep, don't take a redeye flight, or a long, early drive. This is your time to shine! Yawning in someone's face or falling asleep during a presentation does not look good.
- Know your body and know that your company would rather pay for an extra night at a hotel than have you lose an important client for them. $200 could save $2 million in the long run.
- The same goes for staying out late. If you know you have a very early and very important meeting, don't stay out past your bedtime because you want to make the most out of your trip. If you think no one will notice those bags under your eyes, they will!
Be Smart When You Book Your Travel
Just because your business is footing the bill doesn't mean you should ignore costs. Have restraint. Join a Business Discount Travel Program -- like Hertz's Business Rewards Program. By using your company's unique CDP to book your rental car, you will not only book at a lower rate, but you'll earn your company free rental days.
It's easy to get carried away when it's your first trip as a business owner. Don't lose out on opportunities by making rookie mistakes. Give off the impression you'd like to stick with your business, and keep in mind that perception is reality!
Bio: Breanna Wilson is the Director of Marketing at Allied Business Network, a business membership group that offers businesses travel discounts on hotels, car rentals and more from the leading travel companies in the US. Breanna is a travel thought leader who offers a unique perspective on the best ways to travel. She welcomes anyone to reach out to her on Google+ or Twitter.