In 2018, I wrote an article for Entrepreneur.com about the future of face-to-face being online. I felt it was inevitable that business networking would go online because of technology, such as mixed reality and holographic imaging, becoming more and more prevalent in the next decade.
Thankfully the technology was available to help us transition with the global challenges of 2020 and now we are doing much of our work, and our networking, online. With our adaptability and willingness to change as solutions and options become available, we are able to network with businesspeople all around the world. Those options bring new opportunities for all of us to develop and leverage international connections for our business.
Identify Who You Want to Meet
If you want to expand and scale your business internationally, you need to identify the types of international businesses that you want to work with.
What country or continent are they located in?
What specific industry are they in?
What products or services do they specialize in?
Do you want to work with suppliers or buyers?
Who is the person from that company that you want to meet?
With that information, you are then able to find the types of organizations and events that can give you the kinds of contacts you’re looking for. Remember, networking is a contact sport; you must go out, make the effort, and get involved; become engaged in the organizations where you invest in membership. You also have to diversify the kinds of networks that you belong to. A local Chamber of Commerce and Industry is a fantastic network in your local community.
If you’re looking for international business, you want be part of a global organization that does international business. Attend events like the annual BNI® Global Convention, where thousands of professionals from dozens of countries are looking to meet and build relationships with other businesspeople. Trade groups, business councils, and professional peer organizations are all excellent places to create mutually beneficial connections.
Know the Type of Referrals You Want to Receive
Your company may be in a position to open new international revenue streams by finding opportunities to sell your products or services in a new country. Developing connections and relationships with the people you previously identified can lead to the referrals for those opportunities.
Other companies, particularly those that provide local services, may just want to get additional business through international referrals. I have seen dentists, and even a landscape architect, get new clients from international connections that led to referrals. Again, it is important to be specific with what you want and then identify those potential connections to help you reach your goals.
Our current technology provides many networking options, making it easier than ever before for everyone to participate, engage, and network on a global level. I’d love to know how you have leveraged international connections to grow your business. Share in the comments below.