On the Road: Prospecting: 10 Rules for effective business travel…
1. Never go to simply fill a chair. Many clients believe that your physical presence is required to get something done, but in reality most people who travel on a recurring basis simply end up filling space once they are on-site – just like any other employee. There is practically nothing you cannot do remotely from a delivery perspective. You must be the judge as to whether your presence is really required !
2. Take advantage of travel to expand your network. Always let people who are in the area of where you will be traveling know, that you will be in town and offer to meet up with them. This is an excellent way to keep in touch, and to keep the channels of potential work and business open, both for you and for the people you are meeting.
3. Don’t travel for one appointment only. If you are traveling and plan to visit one customer / contact only, you accept te risk of a total waste of time when this appointment doesn’t work out ( illness, strikes etc) . If you plan to go to a certain area contact others in that area and tell them you’d like to bring them a courtesy visit. Not every customer visit garners a gold nugget, but there’s a ton of untapped info out there…you just have to go get it.
4. Engage in travel sparingly. If you’re boarding a plane more than a few times a year, or you’re traveling across town to sit at a client site more than once a quarter, you are spending too much time traveling. Technically, all of your work can be done remotely. There is nothing that cannot be done over the computer and by phone. In-person meetings must be done sparingly, and you must always weigh them against their true costs – lost productivity, downtime for attending to other clients, etc.
5. Determine your priorities. What are your goals and priorities – If you’re trying to increase your income, traveling will not achieve that beyond a certain limit. If you work for multiple clients, then spending inordinate amounts of time on-site with just one client will impact your relationship with the others. Set clear priorities and see how your travel impacts them.
6. Don’t fear losing a client. Some clients will require that you travel. Be confident in your skills, and understand that by taking one piece of work you may lose another. If you take the work that requires travel, you will never receive the opportunity to work on the project that doesn’t. You can sustain many projects in parallel if you are not traveling constantly, whereas you can only handle one project at a time if you are required to be on-site. Don’t be afraid to lose a client. Let people know your rules of engagement, and if they don’t see value in you as a remote resource, find another client.
7. Make your travel an investment. Consider every travel dollar you spend to be an investment in the health of your business, and don’t be afraid to spend money on travel-related expenses. Just as any money you spend on marketing or advertising would be considered an investment in your business, the same should be true for the money you spend on travel. Travel is an excellent means of marketing yourself and remaining relevant. If your business travel is growing your business and your network, then consider all monies spent a good investment that will eventually lead to project work and income.
8. Use your downtime to be productive. Your time on the road should be considered one-hundred percent business time. For example, if you’re flight is delayed, use the time in the airport to write a blog for your website, or work on a new marketing strategy. Or if you’re spending the night at a hotel, use your free time to exercise or take a walk around the town; having the chance to be healthy and to experience a new environment will allow new thoughts to form, and may even enable you to see a new direction to take your business. Don’t spend time wining and dining yourself. Don’t waste time in front of the TV in a hotel room. Be productive.
9. Plan extended trips. Combine your personal vacation time with your business travel. If a new client is located in an area that you want to visit, pack up your family and head out there for a few weeks. If you’re taking a road trip, visit multiple clients in multiple regions.
10. Don’t use travel as an escape. If you are traveling on a weekly basis, or working on a long-term project that requires you to be away from home, you may be sacrificing other customers, personal interests and pursuits. Determine whether you’re doing this out of fear of saying no or laziness of not wanting to find alternative paths to income. You don’t want to be using your business travel as an escape – a way out of responsibilities at work / home.