It’s not only important to prepare for a business trip abroad, it’s essential!
It’s important to remember that when you travel abroad for business, you are not just representing yourself, but also your department, your company, and your country. You are an ambassador and should act accordingly. Without adequate preparation, you’ll not only appear naive and unsophisticated, but you run the risk of insulting the very people you want to impress.
Here are some tips and tricks that will help you prepare your next business trip
Clarify your objectives
Take time to really sit down and think about what you want to achieve? What is your goal? What do you need to achieve to reach that goal? Once you have determined this, everything should be scheduled around succeeding in this goal. If your objective is to secure contracts for sale of your product, your trip to your target country will need to consist of meetings with and presenting to prospective clients you have already contacted and researched. Perhaps you want to determine if there is a market for your product, to evaluate the competition and examine whether your product is suitable for local consumers? There is no better means to achieve these objectives than traveling to the target market. But again you will need to think about your objective and to do the research.
The way to eliminate that issue is to be SMART about quantifying the objectives and then articulating them clearly and validating with stakeholders. SMART is an acronym that stands for “specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound”:
- Specific:The objective is clear and unambiguous and explains to the (future) project team exactly what’s expected.
- Measurable:The objective gives concrete measurements to assess your progress against the objective and determine whether you’ve met it.
- Attainable:The objective can be reached. It must be realistic; otherwise, you’re setting yourself up to fail.
- Relevant:The objective has to matter to the organization.
- Time-bound:The objective provides a time frame of expected achievement. This criterion often affects your solution option design choices or decisions. An objective to identify 150 new customer leads within three months may require a whole different solution than the objective to identify those leads over the course of 2 years.
The power of research
The biggest mistake most international business people make in approaching a new business opportunity is in not researching all facts of the opportunity sufficiently and not knowing enough about the opportunity, the foreign country, the foreign culture and the personalities involved that are linked to the opportunity.
Seek expertise before you leave
you would be surprised how much help and good advice you can get by just asking. There are many sources of information and advice available to exporters and international business, use them. First and foremost is the internet. Go to the major search engines and learn all you can about the opportunity or the country.
Create your list of tasks for the trip
Organization, preparation, and research are the keys to productive and cost-effective business travel. Sit down and develop a list of tasks once you have done your research. Your list should be clear and a concise summary of all that you need to accomplish in the target market. This may include face-to-face meetings with prospective customers, identifying potential business partners, such as agents, distributors or key service providers, obtaining information on competitors, legal issues such as intellectual property protections, local practices, regulations, legal issues and marketing and business promotion strategies suitable for the local audiences.
Follow-up when you get home
Travel is very tiring. Jet lag hits most people harder on their return than it does in the first days of their travel. Many experienced travelers say travel west is harder than travel east. Keep this in mind and remember that the business trip is often the first step. Make sure your follow-up on the promises you have made to send additional data, clarify issues raised, etc. Before you take the time to put your feet up and toast a successful trip, take the time to solidify the business relationships that you have probably just commenced. Politeness is an undervalued virtue and is critical in international business. Take the time to say “thank you” and Send “thank you” letters to the individuals you met. Building a relationship is often assisted by showing you are polite, Responsive, Listen well and communicate fully.