I Don't Feel Safe Doing Business Travel Yet
Dear Someone Else’s Dad,
A client asked me to go to his office in Texas this June (I’m on the East Coast) to make a final sales pitch to his staff in person. Since the pandemic began I haven’t been to my office, gotten on a plane, or had any in-person meetings. Also, I probably will not have had a vaccine by June, and have no idea about the vaccine status of the client’s team. Should I risk my health by going?
Thanks, Nervous Nell
Your question is important and timely because some states like Texas have just relaxed restrictions on mask-wearing whereas most others have not. As much as you probably want to present to your client’s staff from a business perspective, you have every right to respond from a personal-risk perspective.
I would recommend having a call rather than an email (emails can be misinterpreted and Zoom calls allow for more emotion and persuasion in your facial expression and vocal tone) to say how grateful and excited you are to have the opportunity to speak to all members of his team to present your value proposition, which you confidently feel will be able to enhance the company’s marketing/financial/expansion efforts. (Words like “excited, “proud,” and “confident” add a lot to a pitch.) However, even though the social distancing and mask restrictions have been relaxed in Texas, you are not comfortable leaving your pod until you and others your encounter daily have been vaccinated.
You could offer an alternative like doing a group Zoom meeting followed by small team Zoom follow-ups to answer specific questions. Mention that this scenario has been very effective in the past (I hope it has been; otherwise, don’t lie). Then say that you greatly look forward to meeting in person when your perceived risk of traveling and socializing has been much more significantly reduced.
It’s still a dangerous world, and the virus’s variants haven’t been completely understood. I hope that you can articulate that your risk tolerance considers everyone around you not just yourself.