I travel several months a year, speaking to business professionals about networking. When traveling, especially internationally, I try very hard not to forget important items I need for meetings or speaking to groups of people. . . but I admit it’s hard to remember everything all the time.
An international magazine interviewed me recently on this topic. The reporter asked me, “What should business people think about taking with them on business trips that they might not normally think about?” This list would benefit anyone taking a trip, so I'm sharing it here.
First, a few somewhat obvious things that can certainly come in handy:
1. Plenty of business cards. It is never a good idea to run out of business cards while traveling. Tuck extras in your suit pockets, wallet/purse, briefcase and luggage. I put stacks in many places to ensure I always have extra.
2. A name badge. If you do any networking while traveling on business, have your own professional name badge. Don’t rely on the hosting organization to do your name badge and do it right.
3. Extra pens. Make sure you have a pen with you while you are doing meetings. I always find that I need to write some reminders down while I’m talking to people. It’s troublesome to track down a pen while you are busy networking.
Somewhat less obvious things:
1. The contact information (or business cards) of all your referral partners. I sometimes find that having that information at my fingertips allows me to give referrals to people while I’m out networking.
2. Hand sanitizer. I know this may sound a little bit like “Mr. Monk," the germaphobe title character of a television series. However, I have found that since I’ve started using hand sanitizer after shaking many, many hands, that I have been getting far less colds than I used to get. Just be tactful about the way you use it. Don’t desperately and obviously spray your hands every time you shake someone’s hand.
3. Breath mints. As obvious as it may sound, I can assure you from experience that many people have no idea they need them.
4. A memory stick. Many times I have either needed to get a copy of something or give a copy of a file or presentation to people while out networking. Having a memory stick handy has been very helpful on several occasions.
5. Tools for your business. For me, that includes many copies of my bio for introductions whenever I speak. Despite that my team sends the bio in advance, there are many times when I arrive and they don’t have the bio handy. Another tool for me is a PowerPoint remote clicker. This is really important for me because I don’t want to rely on someone else to move the slides forward as a I present. Also, you know that memory stick I mentioned earlier? I have copies of my talks on there just in case the group I’m speaking to has misplaced my presentation material.
When I asked some colleagues and other business travelers what they would add to the list, they added some that I hadn’t thought of. Here are some of their suggestions:
1. A phone charger. I agree heartily, especially seeing how much these items cost in an airport, or in another country. And you certainly won’t want to forget your laptop power cord – besides being expensive it’s often impossible to be able to get the right one easily, if at all. Also, you should write a “note to self” to fully charge all of your electronic devices the night before you leave.
2. Power adapter/converter. Though it’s usually easy to pick up a “universal” adapter at airports or stores in heavily populated areas, in this electronic age you would hate to need one and not be able to find one, so it’s best to have one (or two) packed and ready when you need it!
3. The right clothes. Most of you have experienced differences in temperature or weather from one town to another, so you can imagine how different the conditions could be across the country or around the world. It’s never been easier to plan what clothes to bring, thanks to online weather forecasts for every region of the earth. Of course, there are no guarantees where weather is concerned.
4. A good book. Hear, hear! Those airport layovers, delays and long flights can seem even longer without something interesting to read.
There are certainly more items to include, but the above can certainly make or break an important business trip. So you definitely do not want to forget them.
What do you take along that is not on this list?
Called the “father of modern networking” by CNN, Dr. Ivan Misner is a New York Times bestselling author. He is also the Founder & Chief Visionary Officer of BNI (www.bni.com), the world’s largest business networking organization. His new book, Networking for Success (2nd Edition), is available at bookstores and at Amazon.com.