This post is sponsored by National Car Rental. I’m a paid influencer for them. While they have paid me for this post, the opinions and ideas in it are mine and mine alone. #ad #sponsoredpost

When you do a lot of digital marketing it’s tempting to not travel. After all, online marketing puts you one click away from a world of potential customers.

But this is wrong thinking.

People are social. We crave relationships. And with so much focus on digital marketing strategies, building face-to-face relationships is one nearly-forgotten way to really stand out.

Got your attention?

Bet you haven’t thought about business travel as a marketing strategy. In this article, I’d like to show you how to make the most out of every business trip — especially if you don’t travel often.

Embrace Your Business Travel Style

When it’s time to go on a business trip, what’s the first thing that goes through your head?

Is it anticipation and excitement?

Are you a “wing-it” kind of business traveler?

Do you worry about the details?

Or, are you “So over it”?

You may not have thought about it this way, but you have a business travel style. For example, I run the gambit. First, I get excited about visiting a new city and meeting new people. Then I waffle between excitement and a tad of worry. I don’t travel regularly so I haven’t hit the overwhelm of travel fatigue just yet.

Here’s the thing. Your business travel style is a hidden influencer that will ultimately impact the success of your business trip. If you let your unconscious style drive your business trip, you’re likely to miss out on some great opportunities.

The first step is to embrace your travel style and reconcile it with your business goals. This may seem silly at first, but believe me it works. As soon as you know that you’re going to be taking a business trip, brainstorm a list of what’s going through your mind — this way, you can get everything out of your head and onto a checklist.

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You’ll find that you go through all the different styles while planning and taking your trip — that’s usually what happens to me.

Here is how I plan and manage my business trips so that I get the most out of every mile.

Extend Your Business Trip Beyond the Conference

Since online meeting technology has virtually eliminated the need to make a specific trip to see individual customers, I plan business trips where I can see and meet a lot of customers and vendors in one place. That is usually at a conference.

The first thing I do is make a list of all of the conferences that I might consider and their locations. Then I create a list of contacts within a 200-mile radius of the conference location.

Next, I reach out to each person on this list. I tell them that I’m going to be in their area during the conference dates and ask for the best date and time for the meeting.

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After I get those responses, I determine how many extra days I might need to add to my trip.

Whew. With customers, vendors, partners, and friends notified and some flexible dates and times scheduled, the rest is really easy.

Renting a Car is the Way to #GoLikeAPro

When I’m visiting a city where I know I’m going to be networking at a conference as well as visiting people outside the city limits — renting a car is the best bet.

Recently, I had the opportunity to join the National Rental Car’s Emerald Club.  Over the next few months, I’ll be sharing articles and tips about my experiences with the Emerald Club. And hopefully, you’ll start leveraging the personal power of meeting people face-to-face.

How to Rent a Car in Less Than 3 Minutes

I must admit that I’ve never been very loyal to any car rental company. But, I have to say that National’s Emerald Club has changed that. It starts by downloading the National Car Rental mobile app.

 

With the app downloaded you’re ready to create your account and reserve your car!

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And now comes the fun part — you pick your vehicle.  But you’ll love this!

The key feature of being an Emerald Club member is that you bypass the counter, go straight to the Emerald Aisle and then select ANY vehicle.

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If you’re feeling a bit nervous like I was, you can certainly stop by the National Car Rental booth — just to say “hi” and get directions to the Emerald Aisle.

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Once I got to the Emerald Aisle, I chose a Nissan Altima.

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Sure, you can hop in your car and drive off at this point, but I need at least 10-15 minutes to familiarize myself with the car; set up the seats, mirrors and figure out where the turn signals are.

My Nissan Altima also had an awesome “Car Play” feature. All I had to do was plug my phone into the USB port and the heads-up display mirrored my GPS — YAY!

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And just like that, I was OFF! Honestly, I couldn’t believe how fast and easy this was. Now that I’m an excited Emerald Club member, I’m on my way to racking up points and that means that the more I rent, the more I earn. Then I can apply those points toward getting free rentals, hotel discounts, or frequent flyer miles.

Get Out There

If you haven’t been on a business trip this year where you’ve had the chance to sit down with customers, partners and business friends, you are missing out on the valuable opportunities that seem to only bubble up over dinner.

So, open up your contact files and start planning a business trip. Start by downloading the National Car Rental App (on Apple or Android), and join the Emerald Club.

I encourage you to share your travel tips in the comments as well as on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.  Just be sure to mention @ivanastaylor (Instagram) @DIYMarketers (Twitter), @NationalCarRental (Instagram) and @NationalPro (Twitter).