There isn’t much business travel happening right now. Most business trips have been postponed indefinitely if not canceled altogether. No business wants to be responsible for getting an employee and her family infected with coronavirus for the sake of a few thousand dollars business arrangement that could have been closed using Skype and a fax machine.
The only business travel happening right now is that which is deemed mission critical. If it is that important, the company is going to send the very best person they have available. And that person has to be at their very best. In that situation, every detail matters. This is not a learning opportunity for a rookie. This is the big time. And the person will have to be on their A-game.
If you are not a part of a company with a lot of in-person, business experience, there are some things you will need to learn before heading out the door. One of those hard lessons is that the little things make a huge difference. You will be judged harshly by the smallest missteps, including and especially related to superficial appearance. Everything matters, including these critical accessories:
Choose the Right Watch
If you don’t know anything about watches, it might be safer to go without a watch of any kind. If you decide to go for it, leave the Apple Watch in your pocket and put on the Cartier Tank Américaine instead. There is a healthy luxury pre-owned market that will allow you to find just about any make and model at a reasonable price. So you can look smart and be smart with your money at the same time.
In high-stakes business meetings, you don’t want to look like an amateur with your watch lighting up, alarms going off, and Mickey Mouse dancing around. It is not cute, or funny, or easy to explain away. You are immediately cast as unprofessional. And no one wants to spend a truck load of money with someone who is unprofessional. Where a watch that respects the transaction you are trying to close.
Get a Professional Haircut
Find a stylist who will come to your house and cut your hair outside on the porch. You cannot do business travel in style if you don’t look the part. Your long, hippie hair might have worked for you in the office when you were among your buddies. But a client who has never met you is not your buddy. Don’t treat her that way.
You are dealing with someone who sat under a hair dryer for 20 minutes for this meeting. Someone got a manicure in anticipation of the event. You show up with pandemic hair and laugh it off. That’s not going to work. If it does, you are not after big enough deals. You will always be a small fry playing small ball if that is how you approach a business deal. Your hair is as much an accessory as your watch. Present it professionally and people will respond to you in kind.
Glasses That Send the Right Message
Consider yourself lucky if you don’t have to wear glasses. If you do, be careful about which ones you choose. The best thing you can say about smart glasses is that some of them don’t look terrible. That is not an endorsement. Don’t think people will not realize they are smart glasses. The moment someone asks if you are wearing a camera, you’re done.
Also, avoid glasses that make you look like a rock star or celebrity or someone trying to look cool. You are not on the beach. You are in a conference room trying to land a deal. Get a second pair of glasses that look right at home in a business setting. Your eyes are your secret weapon. Don’t let that weapon backfire by wearing glasses that send the wrong message.
Business travel is always serious business, but especially now that it is so rare and precious. Make sure your watch, your haircut, and your glasses mean business.