Making a good impression on a business trip

We focus a lot on the “transit” part of business travel–flights, hotels, etc–because that experience is fairly universal, regardless of industry or job. But the actual most important part of business travel is–shocker–when you arrive at the office you’ve traveled all this way to visit. Making a good impression on a business trip is critical to your success. Here are a few suggestions (for all industries) for accomplishing this.

Know where you’re going. It sounds like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised how many stories I have heard of people who *think* they know where their customer’s office is but have the wrong address/get lost/go to the wrong location. Before your trip verify the logistics with your point of contact, including the address, who you should call when you arrive, any special instructions for the building, and what the parking situation will be.

Arrive on time. Anytime you are traveling to an unfamiliar location please, please allow yourself extra time. Nothing looks worse than arriving late for an important client meeting! Google Maps will allow you to choose the time of your trip, giving you insight into how long it takes to get from your hotel to the office during rush hour (as opposed to 10pm the night before, when you’re actually checking).

Be prepared. Do you need a projector? Clicker (my favorite, pictured)? Laptop? Flash drive? Printouts? Chargers? Cables? Find out ahead of time what the office has onsite and what you will need to bring with you. I know several people who always have a projector with them, just in case the office projector doesn’t work. Better safe than sorry!

Present yourself well. Know the office you are visiting. Do they were jeans? Suits? Business casual? While it’s not a bad thing to be dressed a bit nicer than your clients, wearing a suit when everyone else is in jeans can imply you don’t understand office culture. And it goes without saying—make sure you don’t look like you just spent four (or more!) hours in transit. Wear clothes that resist wrinkles and freshen your hair and/or makeup before arriving at the office.

Readers, what are your tips for making a good impression on a business trip?

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