Whether your start-up business is still in the mental planning stages or you have an established business that you’re ready to expand, there are a number of benefits to thinking on an international scale. The internet allows us to reach out to a far wider client and supplier base, providing ample networking opportunities with the click of a mouse. Networking on the international level can be a challenge, but there are now tools available that make it easier than in the past.
Join International Networks and Online Groups
One of the easiest ways to test the international waters in your industry is to join as many online groups as you can. Networking sites, online forums and blogs, and social networking websites all provide simple opportunities to make international connections for your business. Obvious choices include networking sites like LinkedIn and Xing, but you can also sign up for social groups in your industry with international members. You might want to join networks that are popular in other countries as well. Orkut is a social networking site which is popular in India and Brazil, making it a good way to reach out to potential contacts in these countries. It’s not enough simply to join a network and add contacts, however. You’ll need to interact with them, posting updates and responding to questions or comments to build business relationships.
Research International Markets
If you’ve decided to market products in a different country, it’s vital to understand cultural differences and customer needs. Take local fashions and culture into account as you create a marketing approach, and examine all risks thoroughly.
Recruit Local Representatives
Networking styles can vary significantly between different cultures. What may seem like a constructive suggestion in the United States could come across as an offensive criticism in Japan, for example. If it’s not possible to physically spend time in a country you wish to export to, you’ll want to recruit a local expert who can help you understand these cultural differences and business styles. Communication tools such as SIM only deals can keep costs low to facilitate this contact. Use your budding network of contacts to seek advice regarding how to best approach the local demographic. It’s also helpful to attend online conferences or webinars with international attendees, which provide opportunity to interact with potential representatives for your business.
Follow Up in Person when Possible
It’s all well and good to build your network of international contacts, but these relationships must then be maintained to serve any purpose. Reach out to contacts through informative links, business opportunities, or any other resources that you think might have value to your network. Introduce contacts to one another to build a stronger network. Although email is a good way to stay in contact, it’s also helpful to place phone calls or meet face to face when possible. International providers like Lebara can keep phone costs low, which provides a more personalised point of contact.
Gaining an international perspective for your business can help it grow exponentially. There are multiple opportunities in today’s online environment to help you get in contact with potential overseas clients and partners. Bit by bit, you can grow your network and learn more about how to best operate in a global business climate.