Recently I took a trip out of the country. I had to prepare for this new experience. A new language had to be learned, how did they dress, what was their culture like, did I want to see anything special? I quickly did my research and was prepared for my new adventure.

I did start to think that this preparation is exactly what entrepreneurs and job seekers do when they are seeking new opportunities. And if they don’t perhaps that is why they are not as successful as they could be. Before you set out to speak with potential opportunities, there are a few key things you can do.

Research the website to gain knowledge. Armed with facts about the company will only help you stand out.

There is a saying, “You only get one chance to make a first impression.” Well you don’t want to go in overdressed or underdressed. Again the website can help you, look at photos posted on their site. You may even want to take a chance and drive by the parking lot and watch people enter. A good tip is not to go on Friday as some companies have dress down or casual Friday.

Are there hours of operation on the website? If they don’t open until 9am you wont want to schedule your interview or proposal for 9am, the person speaking with you will have just gotten in and will be trying to catch up on items on his desk. The question is will you get their full attention? That is a chance I am not willing to take.

Is there mission statement available to you. The mission statement will help you understand their culture. Is this a place you would feel comfortable working, do you have the same beliefs?

Have they won any awards? Perhaps you can congratulate them on their success. We all like our 5 minutes of fame, and even more so when people take notice.

Take a few moments to prepare for your new adventure weather it be an out of country experience or a new job offer. It pays to research.

Originally published in the Democrat & Chronicle on September 11th, 2013.