You’ve packed your bags, booked your flight, and are headed out for a weeklong whirlwind of client meetings and networking opportunities. Unfortunately, your 9 to 5 obligations don’t stop when you’re 500 miles away from the office. Don’t fret, we’ve got a few ideas to help you leverage technology to keep things moving in the right direction.
Utilize automated social media postings
Connect with your contacts and customers with prescheduled Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn postings. Start your trip with a notice that you will be out of the office for a short time. Your followers will appreciate the heads-up. Pagemodo, which specializes in social media tools for small businesses, offers a free trial with the option to upgrade anytime. It’s worth checking out if you don’t want to check out of your Facebook for a week.
Consider a temporary assistant
Nobody really wants to leave their business in someone else’s hands for any amount of time, but Murphy’s Law often comes into play while you’re away. If you don’t have a trusted employee to take care of unexpected issues, you should. It is still your responsibility to provide thoughtful and efficient customer service despite your physical absence. Vistaprint suggests seeking the services of a virtual assistant, especially if you are a one man (or one woman) show. You may also ask your regular customers, who already know your products and services, if they would be interested in helping you out occasionally. Whichever option you choose, spend a few weeks with your proxy beforehand to ensure they understand your processes and can provide real solutions in case of a problem. It should be someone you trust to handle a crisis with grace and professionalism, and that you feel confident handing the “keys” to.
Don’t trust your hotel’s internet
Most hotels nowadays have both basic and premium internet plans available, usually for free. This is essential to business travel since you will need to access information during your stay. But, if your information is sensitive, don’t rely on the hotel’s security to keep your connection safe. Always travel with a portable router that allows for secure wireless connections — it can also be handy in airports with spotty Wifi and busy cafes with unsecured networks. Norton offers a great list of additional steps you can take to sideline data-stealing snoops, even in public Wifi locations, here.
Scope out meeting spots and plan ahead
Eliminate stress by knowing which places in town are best for intimate discussions. There are few things worse than trying to close a deal by shouting over unruly children the next table over, so scout reviews for the most adult-oriented dinner spots in your area. Entrepreneur VIP Contributor Murray Newlands recommends letting your dinner guests select from a shortlist of suitable and convenient locations. You may not be aware of dietary restrictions or palate preferences, so letting them pick will make things less stressful on their end.
It is quite common to discuss business proceedings over a glass of wine, but this isn’t an option if you are sober. Unfortunately, it will be difficult to find a venue that combines a professional atmosphere with a lack of alcoholic beverages, so it is important that you prepare and have a plan in place for saying no. Have a script ready, such as telling clients that you prefer to discuss business details with a clear head or that you have an early meeting.
Keep in touch with family
Being a business owner means a lot of long hours away from home. This can lead to disconnects with your partner and children if you don’t make an effort to remain in-tune while you’re taking care of business remotely. Tools such as Skype, FaceTime, and even Facebook video calling can keep you connected with your loved ones, so you can travel with less guilt and thus fewer distractions. Implement an emergency text code if there are domestic issues that require your immediate attention so you don’t feel obligated to return messages right away unless you are prompted.
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