Working Anywhere

Alisa BonsignoreI’m draped in a tattered, waterproof black cape and my hair is covered in stinky goo. Yes, I’m writing this post from the hair salon, but I’ll bet that you wouldn’t know if I hadn’t told you.

Last week, I was rushing to get home from one appointment in time to dial in for a GoToMeeting conference with another client. Traffic wasn’t cooperating, so I pulled over into an industrial parking lot, fired up my Wi-Fi and mobile phone, and no one (other than the security guard who kept driving past and giving me strange looks) was the wiser.

For a long time, I thought that I could get away with nothing more than my iPhone and a comprehensive data plan so that I could make calls, check email and review files, all from a pocket-sized device. But then, more and more clients started using services like GoToMeeting or WebEx, making things considerably more challenging. Sure, in emergencies I would go to a coffee shop and dial in with their free Internet, but with the music, background conversations and sounds of coffee grinders, there was no mistaking the fact that I was in a coffee shop. It didn’t exactly convey professionalism, particularly for a scheduled call.

The Verizon MiFi has been a remarkable solution, albeit with a long-term contract. If it had been available when I needed it, I likely would have gone with the Virgin Mobile MiFi that comes without a contract commitment.

The Virgin Mobile device is perfect for the occasional traveler. At $40 a month for only the months you need it, it pays for itself after just four nights at a conference where the hotel charges $12.95/night for in-room connectivity (I’m looking at you, major hotel chain whose name begins with “H”), plus you can use it between sessions to stay connected to clients.

I now carry my MacBook, iPhone and Wi-Fi hub with me wherever I go during business hours, and that includes the hair salon. I consider them to be indispensable tools for running my business. That, and my Moleskine notebook. Hey, even a high-tech girl can’t survive without paper and pen.

What can’t you live without?