If you don’t travel for work frequently, packing for your business trip can seem overwhelming. Whether going for 2 days or 2 weeks, it can be hard to determine what you will need while there. Then, it can be hard to decide how to pack, and how much you will need. As such, here is a guide to help you through your packing experience.
Make a List
Decide what kind of clothes you will need, how many outfits you will need, and what other items you need. Consider how many meetings you will have, how many non-meeting functions you will have, and what you will be doing with the rest of your time. Will there be a need for a formal suit or will business casual work? Do you have time to change between formal meetings and drinks at night? If you have down time, will you be taking clients to see a show or sightseeing, or will you spend that time with a coworker traveling with you? If so, what will you need for that time? Next, think about your chargers, shoes, belts, medicine, and business cards. Finally, are you bringing a laptop? If so, make sure you have a pad and pen in your laptop bag, and any other specific tools or presentation materials you will need.
Packing for business is not the same as packing for a family vacation. Your downtime in the airport can be valuable time to tweak a presentation. Same goes for a long flight. And unlike a family vacation where you can travel comfortably, you may be headed straight to a meeting or getting picked up by a coworker or client from the airport, meaning you need to be dressed for success on the plane. Try to pack any necessary work items in your carry-on luggage, and everything personal in your checked bag. Also think hard about what you may need before you have a chance to unpack, because if your business cards are in your luggage, you won’t be able to get to them to hand out, if needed. Similarly, if you are on a long flight, you may need hand sanitizer, breath mints, and so on to get yourself ready without a chance to unpack. Finally, think about how many bags you are bringing. Where possible, cut down on your items to save a bag. Having that extra outfit might be nice, but lugging three or four bags through the airport is not. Especially if you have a coworker or client picking you up.
After you make your list and pack, go back over everything. The last thing you want to do is get there and realize you forgot your shoes, your suit, or part of your presentation materials. Make sure you didn’t cross off an item that you planned to pack but didn’t, or that you didn’t take something out you needed and forget to put it back in your bag.
By creating a list, you will be sure you have everything you need. By consolidating and packing smart, you will have an easier time at the airport and be able to get work done while you’re waiting. And by double checking, you will be sure you do not forget anything. By following these steps, you can focus on your meetings instead of your trip.
It is important to understand what your competitors are doing, what their market share is, and how you stack up to them. But it can often be hard to get any real insight into their processes, marketing, or client base beyond what they intentionally publicize. Here are 3 ways to help you maintain a competitive advantage.
1. Hire a Former Employee – The best way to get insight into the culture, marketing, or overall direction of a competitor is to hire a key employee of that company. If your competitor parts way with a key employee, you should immediately reach out to that person. If they were fired for cause or performance, you may not want to hire them, but many times people leave for reasons that won’t necessarily be an issue with a different employer. And at the very least, you can gain some insights during the pre-hire conversations and interviews.
2. Use Technology – Whether searching in search engines, scouring file sharing sites, or simply looking at their website, there is a plethora of information readily available to anyone who wants to look. Search engines can be a great way to find content about the business, either written by the company on other websites or about them by others. File sharing sites can be a great way to find content your competitor shared with team members but did not mean to be seen publicly. If they left it on there, however, it can be free game for you and an easy way to get insights. And finally, using their website against them can be easy. Look at what they are doing, what they are working on, and what their corporate strategy is. A lot can be learned by reading through the whole website – especially things like “about us,” where they share their vision.
3. Use Your Network – This can be personal or professional relationships. This can be family, friends, suppliers, or clients. Reach out to people and ask – you would be surprised what people will tell you without thinking twice. If you are both using the same distributor, that person could have some great insights for you that you can uncover without that person realizing what you’re really asking. The same can go for customers, who will often gladly stack up your products and services to the competition. Your competitors are bound to have similar contacts to you – use them to get information.
Using these 3 techniques, it will be easy to always maintain a competitive advantage, which is becoming more and more important in an ever-connected world.