Last month I had another opportunity to travel to visit one of Poatek’s clients. This time I spent two weeks in Miami, Florida, and since I had already visited this client before, it was a whole different experience and a lot easier.
In my first business travel overseas, I was really worried. Not only was this my first time traveling for work, but it was also my first international experience. I had so many doubts, such as “What do they expect me to do?”, “Am I prepared for this?”, “What should I wear?”, “How will my routine be there?”, etc.
Ok, I was overreacting, but there were some valid questions, and it wasn’t just me: other team members traveled for work last month, and they had many questions as well. This inspired me to write this blog post to explain what I have learned from my business travels, and to give some advice for newbies on the topic.
So, here are some tips based on my experience.
Even though nowadays people are working remotely and with people they’ve never met, having a face-to-face meeting is still a key factor to create a bond between team members or with different teams. So, go ahead and start some “small talk” with people you’re working with, invite them to have lunch/dinner with you, ask for places to visit… You don’t have to be on the “work” subject all the time while you’re there. After your business travel, you’ll notice a huge difference in the relationship with your client, and you’ll be surprised by the workflow improvement.
Enjoy your time to meet as many people as possible in your client’s company. Focus on understanding what is the role of each one working there, and of course, introduce yourself and explain what you do.
This will not just help you to understand better how the company works and to meet great people, but you’ll also be able to use your expertise to improve the workflow and offer a fresh point of view.
Also, once you’re back home, you might face some questions about the job — and one of the coworkers you’ve met abroad might be the right person to ask. They’ll also feel more comfortable asking you something!
When traveling for work, on your usual work time you will be expected to be attending meetings, giving presentations, participating in trainings or training people. This is great, but you’ll use a lot of your time on this, and if you’re an introvert like me, this will be exhausting. So, forget your work routine, try to be as active as possible there, be noticed.
Your daily tasks will keep popping for you, so try to manage your time to do this kind of job in an extra hour, or you can also get back to these tasks once you’re back home. The best advice I can give is: be prepared, look for their website to know people’s faces, have your presentations ready before you get there, study the country’s culture and do your usual tasks in advance.
Business travel is not a vacation, but it’s not a reason for you not to have fun, so enjoy your free time to get to know more about the city you’re visiting, try local restaurants, rent a bike, participate in walking tours, visit museums. You can always have fun and learn new things anywhere in the world, but especially in a place you’re not used to be.
If possible, try to extend your stay to include a weekend, and then you’ll have more time to tour, and you can also travel to somewhere close. The last time I went to the United States for a business trip, I spent a weekend and a Monday (I asked the company for a day off) in New York, one of the items that were in my “bucket list”. It was amazing, much cheaper than if I had flown there by myself, and it was also refreshing after two weeks of hard work.
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