The Value of the iPad in the Wild

Every week, I get out of the office and meet with long-time clients, new customers, and prospects. This is a time-consuming process across a number of rolling weeks, including overlapping tasks such as:

  • Find out a list of focused contacts
  • The right message for these folks
  • Juggle schedules to make the most efficient use of time
  • Prepare for each meeting with the proper due diligence
  • ...

These are fun trips. Even with the occasional poor or rude contact, it's nice to make human connections with our external partners. Digital communication is nice, too, but the effort in shaking someone's hand helps alleviate the 'working without seeing' rut we can fall into.

Keeping in mind this is a marketing - a terrific way to get firsthand knowledge about the company, products, services, personnel, etc. - not a sales or business development exercise, and it can soon become overwhelming.

The more meetings that are made, the more the process of getting these meetings is refined and streamlined, including using new tools to help make the whole process more meaningful. Enter the Apple iPad.

In New York, I take subways to and from each meeting, along with a healthy dose of walking along streets trying to find building numbers. Which means I have plenty of time to review notes, look up addresses, and confirm meeting times. Here's how I handle it, all through the beauty of the iPad:

  • Add meetings to calendar - This includes the meeting time, location, telephone number and contact name. I can always look this up, whether I'm connected to the Internet or not. Bonus - If I'm connected, I can map the address(es) via Google Maps. I use a combination of Google Calendar and Apple iCal.
  • Instapaper - The money app. I'll do a bunch of research during the week, but there are always last-minute items (news, blogs, etc.) that I'd like to reference when I walk in the door (makes me seem current and caring). I can tag a bunch of pages, then synch up my Instapaper app. I can read all these on my ride/walk into the office.
  • Dragon Dictation - I'll be honest, this is a new one for me. I used the voice recorder on the iPhone to capture any notes once I left the meeting - especially if I knew I was going to lose them unless i jotted them down. Dragon lets me do this, while translating it to text, so I can reference it in a post-meeting report.
  • ReQall - A nice app that does mostly the same thing as Dragon, except it adds the note to your calendar. I like this, since I use my calendar to hold most of my thoughts/ideas/notes. Since I haven't quite felt comfortable in taking notes on the iPad in a meeting yet, I go back and forth between ReQall and Dragon to keep my thoughts fresh after meetings.

Yes, I could do most of these on the iPhone, or even with a *gasp* pad of paper and some printouts. But the added benefit of whipping out the iPad is that it's an instant conversation starter, starting both heated and interested discussions, and helping otherwise awkward conversations ease into a more relaxed chat.

Don't get me wrong, there are many more apps on the iPad I use for meetings, including KickMap, Photos, CabSense, Tungle, Flipboard, etc. but the ones above help me maintain my focus on the topic at hand.