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  • AutorenbildDr. Johannes Ripken

How to make your business trips more effective

Aktualisiert: 12. Aug. 2019

Recently I was on the road again to meet potential business partners or customers for tamanguu. I enjoy such trips, even if they can be mentally and physically demanding. But the great thing is that I meet interesting personalities, get to know and exchange ideas with them. And meanwhile I can push our startup tamanguu forward.

Generally, business trips are an integral part of today’s professional life. Meeting potential business partners or customers in person in their city or office is the best way to maintain relationships and network. Some business trips are a complete success - like my recent one. Some are not really satisfying.

In order that the latter doesn’t happen, here are my 5 essential tips for more effective business trips! Specifically using the example of the business trip that I have just finished.

Tip 1: Don’t do any business trip with only one appointment

The occasion for a business trip is often a concrete appointment, which is arranged with a business partner. If the appointment itself lasts only a few hours, the journey is considerably longer.

I have therefore extended the last business trip from one to two days in order to meet more business partners. A comprehensive look into my tamanguu system as well as into my LinkedIn and XING network, each with the filter on the destination city or region of the business trip, revealed several interesting people from my network. Not only the ones I had top of mind for the city anyway, but also the hidden people from the digital networks I was only connected to.

Long-term business partners or the connected strangers are usually happy when you proactively write to them: Hello X, I’m in your city on 17.01. and 18.01. for an appointment and I’m just thinking about with which exciting people I can still meet. I would be happy if you have time”.

This way I got to know three managers and an artist from the music industry whom I hardly knew before and met two old acquaintances again after many years. And all meetings were promising for the further development of tamanguu, even though I partly came out with a different result than I had set as my goal.

Most people are happy about such a message as above, even if it doesn’t work out with a meeting. In the end, it is a sign of appreciation. Everybody knows how big digital networks are today and that every business person with an affinity for networks usually knows many people in big cities. So if you are in the city for two days and therefore only have time for a limited number of appointments, the person you are writing to belongs to this small selection.

Appreciation of the contact is an essential part of networking and relationship management.

Tip 2: Prepare every meeting individually

Certainly, before writing to the contacts, I got a rough overview whether the respective person is basically interesting for my business goals. If there are no points of contact with one’s own business goals or no prospects for an inspiring exchange, there are surely more meaningful ways to spend time.

After confirming the meeting, I thought about it intensively and researched the profiles on the Internet to get a clear picture of the person:

  • What does the contact currently do professionally? What has he done before?

  • How does a person tick? What can I find out about his personality?

  • What do we have in common? Common interests, experiences, mutual acquaintances?

This information can usually be found in professional and social networks. The next two thoughts are essential:

  • What are my goals for the meeting?

  • How can I help my contact? How can I give him added value?

Going into a conversation aimlessly and without a donor mentality is a waste of time for both business partners!

I always record these thoughts in my notes for the business trip in order to recall them shortly before the meeting. If you have several appointments in two days, it is difficult to remember all the details about the people.

Tip 3: Master the meeting itself

I don’t want to come straight to the point (Part 1) It is clear to everyone involved that business objectives are also pursued at a business meeting. When meeting, I always go in with a mindset that is not only shaped by my business goals. What is important?

  • I want to get to know people: their current professional and personal situation, their challenges and goals.

  • I want to gain his trust and see if the chemistry is right, if we are likeable as people.

According to studies, these aspects are more important than the price when making business decisions.

I don’t want to come straight to the point (Part 2) The information I have researched about the person in advance should not be used offensively. An exception is information that the contact has published via social media, for example, and that I have reacted to myself. The researched information should rather be used to steer the conversation so that it occurs in the natural flow of the conversation.

An example: I met a manager at a conference who is one of the people who prefers to listen to their own voice and stories. One thing I found out from research at LinkedIn was a mutual contact at a university. When this manager paused in his monologue and let me speak, I told my background and also dropped the fact that I work at this university as a lecturer. The previously uninterested, distanced manager suddenly became a vital discussion partner.

Similarities are a strong anchor among people because they bring each other on an equal level, provide conversation material and evoke memories or emotions.

I can only recommend to let the other person talk and to put yourself in the listener’s position first. It has several advantages. You can adapt to the contact:

  • Finding out what his current challenges and problems are

  • Listening to what moves him emotionally at the moment

  • Show interest, ask questions.

With this information the conversation can be steered, without dominating the conversation offensively. You do not need to be worried not to get a word in. The other person will let you have your say at some point, even with companions like those described above - only with the advantage of being able to address what the other person has said.

Tip 4: Without Follow Up the effort was for nothing

Directly after the meeting there are usually concrete agreements or statements of intent. It was the same on my business trip and I left every meeting with clear next steps. In any case, it is necessary to proactively control the further process after the meeting. This starts with a follow up mail, either the same day or the next day. In this mail I appreciate the meeting and briefly document the next steps or the discussed. If it is appropriate, I add an emotional-personal part to strengthen the relationship beyond the business level. I wrote these follow up mails in the train on the way back so that it doesn’t disappear in the general office routine the next day. As an example: Hello {Name}, thank you very much for our meeting today! I will send you the information in the next days. The meeting was also good as a flashback to our time at the university. Many greetings, XY

Of course it should not stay with this one follow up mail. One is none and is quickly forgotten - not only by the recipient, but by yourself. Unfortunately this has already happened to me. After months a renewed contact is rather awkward, if after a personal meeting there has been radio silence for a long time. Establish the relationship continuously! To accompany this process with smart action recommendations is a core feature of tamanguu.

It is not useful that you penetrate the contact every two days with similar emails. Rather, it is important to stay in valuable contact. A few ideas for it:

  • Send an exciting article about the contact’s interests

  • Interactions in social networks, which helps the contact to increase its reach and reputation.

  • Offer concrete help

  • Offer professional exchange during a personal conversation (telephone, video call) on a topic relevant to the contact.

  • Suggest a meeting if you are on a new business trip in the city of contact

  • Connect with interesting contacts by arrangement

After several moments of contact, the business relationship is strengthened, trust is built up and cooperation is ensured. Or I have the certainty that there will be no cooperation.

Tip 5: Living the Networking Mindset

I live the Networking Mindset at every moment of contact with my contacts. My own business goals are undoubtedly present, so that I am not targetless in the selection and positioning of communication. I am aware that cultivating business relationships is time-consuming and may not immediately offer economic benefits, but pays off in the long term. I build the relationship and trust through a giver mentality and a personal exchange, so that my contact recognises my professional competence on the one hand, but also finds me likeable as a person on the other.

Also interesting in this context:

In this sense: Happy Networking!


How can tamanguu help me to succeed?

Relationships are so significantly important in business and today’s relationship era that you can say: Without strong relationships you are not successful! At the same time, it takes a lot of time to build relationships that you often don’t have in your professional life. tamanguu accompanies and structures your business networking with focus and clear, intelligent action recommendations to build and maintain business relationships more effectively and efficiently.

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