There’s a business trip coming up. You’ve been planning for weeks, booking your airfare, hotel, rental car and meetings. Then, something happens that completely throws you off-guard. The boss informs you that they’ll be traveling with you! What??!! The first thing that pops into your head is, “oh, no. Am I in trouble? Am I being checked out?” All the articles out there that cover things like Surviving a Trip with the Boss or How to Be Composed When Traveling with Your Supervisor seem to be missing one very important point: This is an opportunity, not an inquisition!
I travel the nation throughout the year from St. Louis to Georgia to NYC to Philadelphia to San Diego. Most of this travel is solo, but occasionally I have the opportunity to have my boss travel along with me for partner meetings. Something to keep in mind is that my boss is the President (sometimes the CEO even comes along with me and my co-workers) of my organization. I’ve learned that there are some very positive things about traveling with the boss. Here are a few:
You get to know them as a person. Believe it or not, your boss is human, just like you. Don’t be the silent worker when traveling with your boss. Instead, use this time to get to know them better. Ask them questions about where they grew up, their family, or career. I traveled with my boss a few weeks ago. Know what I learned? She is hooked on American Idol this season, has music tastes that are just as eclectic as mine, and prefers to patronize local restaurants rather than the usual chains. All things that we have in common (well, I haven’t watched AI at all this year…bad Kirk!)
It’s great networking. The time with your boss can certainly be used to get to know them better, but don’t be afraid to share things about yourself! It’s a two-way street when it comes to networking. Use this opportunity to highlight your accomplishments, share things about your personal life (not too much) and your goals. That last part is very important: your goals. Tell your boss what your plans are for the future. You never know – they might be able to help you get there!
There’s an opportunity for seeking mentorship/advice. Regardless of your age or the age of your boss, mentorship can be very beneficial. Each person has different experiences and a frame of reference. This is a great opportunity to ask for advice. Seek answers and consultation from your boss to help accomplish your goals. Even if it doesn’t relate completely to the job, it’s okay to ask. I’ve gained some of the best knowledge in my life just by hearing what others have to say. Listen to that advice. NOTE: Your mentor shouldn’t always be your boss. It’s okay (and recommended) to seek out 2-3 mentors outside of your profession. It’s a great way to gain a different perspective and learn more about a different industry. See one of the archived articles, The Importance of Finding a Mentor, for more on this subject.
Your bags are packed, appointments are scheduled, and you have time with the boss. Are you ready for this opportunity? Sure you are! Now, go get ‘em!