As a business professional, there may be occasions when you have to travel for business. You might be attending a trade show, or attending out meetings with potential clients, for instance. During these occasions, the first impression that you make is hugely important as a signifier of your professionalism and trustworthiness and can be an important factor in how seriously you are taken by your fellow professionals. Here are three essentials for making a good first impression when traveling for business.
1. Be well-groomed
It is very important that you are well-groomed at all times during your business trip, so that you appear clean and presentable to potential clients. Do not allow your basic hygiene to dip, making sure you brush your teeth and shower even on hectic days that are packed with meetings and travel. You may have to consider certain allowances depending on the climate of your destination; for instance, traveling for business to a hot location such as Texas might necessitate more showers and freshening up breaks to ensure that you appear clean and well-groomed whatever the temperature. Furthermore, pay attention to the grooming basics: brush your hair, check that your clothes are freshly washed and make use of any irons or trouser presses offered by your hotel.
2. Practise good manners and etiquette
Good manners and etiquette are always appreciated, though sometimes forgotten about. When meeting other industry professionals on your business trip, ensure that you are courteous and approachable whilst still maintaining a professionalism to your conduct. Don’t forget about small talk either – this is a powerful tool for putting people at their ease and building a respectful relationship before launching into serious business matters. If your business trip takes you to another country with a vastly different culture to your own, you should take the time beforehand to research your location to ensure that you avoid making any gaffes. For instance, Japanese business etiquette involves a strict protocol regarding the exchanging of business cards, so make sure that yours are un-frayed and safely stored in a nice case.
3. Dress according to the dress code
Knowing what clothing to pack for your business trip can be difficult, especially if you are aiming to pack lightly – but with some consideration you can make sure that you are dressed in appropriate business attire throughout the duration of your trip. Consider the different activities in which you will participate during your business trip – boardroom meetings, trade dinners and, of course, travel days, will all require a slightly different dress code.
A suit, different shirts, and tie will cover most bases when traveling for business – wear the pants and a fun shirt for a business casual look, and dress up with the full suit, white shirt, and tie for formal dinners and meetings. Furthermore, always ensure that your shoes are polished and clothing is freshly pressed to look smart rather than dishevelled. In hot climates, take along a small hand towel so you can mop your brow and dry your hands before shaking hands.