Original article: http://www.tradeready.ca/2015/trade-takeaways/3-things-must-know-building-global-business-relationships-go-microglobal/
Remember the basic takeaway drummed into us by realtors the world over, whether you’re a real estate mogul or a wanna-be homeowner? Location, location, location! Similarly, when it comes to global business and Microglobal™ in particular, there are only three things to remember….relationships, relationships, relationships!
Business doesn’t happen overnight and when you’re trying to conduct business overseas, that’s doubly true.. Business takes time and in other countries, much of business is built on relationships. Be willing to invest yourself, your time and your energy into creating meaningful relationships with the people you want to do business with overseas.
What is Microglobal? Microglobal™ is the concept that small business and micro-enterprise can enact in and be part of global commerce. Some assume that only large corporations and multinationals with cargo containers full of merchandise can be part of international trade. Microglobal™ supports the notion that even the smallest of business endeavors can have a global component. Take your relationships to the global level.
Now, admittedly, global business is no small task. Time zones and distance can seem daunting and may require some odd hours to make a Skype call happen. Customs and culture can make it tricky to navigate certain situations, so educate yourself and find out a bit about the country you want to do business in.
You would be surprised by how excited your overseas connections become when they discover that you’ve done your homework and can actually recite a bit of information about their home country. In addition, if you’re interested in doing global business, then you should be interested in travel. You may be fortunate, as I’ve had happen on occasion, when an overseas connection is headed stateside. You’d better believe I find a way to meet them while they’re here. But I’m just as willing to head abroad as our business conversation develops.
Establishing trust can be difficult when it is done only via cell phone or email. A trip overseas to meet in person can be the missing piece in your project development. Of course, even after you’ve been abroad, depending on the country you are working in, things may still take more time. Don’t get discouraged, but also, don’t put all your eggs in one country’s basket (so to speak). Maximize the resources and relationships you already have.
As a Microglobal business, time and resources are often limited, so be willing to keep an eye on various projects and let them simmer a while as needed. Some get cooking right away, others need to marinate a long time before they’re ready – sorry for the cooking analogies, but you get the idea. Relationships are key not only with your global connections, but also with the resources you will need along the way.
Get to know your local Small Business Development team, your Centers for International Trade, your Commercial Services officers, your bank, and your shipping agencies such as USPS, FedEx or other. There are a lot of helpful services out there geared toward assisting small business in successful global transactions. You will want to have these resources on hand when things finally get underway. In order to get the best advice and the best assistance you need, you’ll want to build those relationships before you go global. It’s all about relationships Here are the top 3 things to consider as you prepare for global success:
- In order to build relationships, you must reach out. There are so many ways to get connected but it’s up to you to make the effort. Don’t let language or distance become unseen barriers. Go for it! Through social media and networking sites, it really can be as simple as an email introduction to get the ball rolling.
Not sure what to say? Start with “hello” and a genuine interest in wanting to discover more. Let things evolve organically. While you don’t want to waste anyone’s time, it’s also perfectly okay to start by sharing information or asking questions. Sometimes, something as simple as commenting on social media about someone’s product or service is enough to plant the seed of future relationships.
- Once you start flexing your relationship muscles, you’ll want to keep on building them. Don’t be afraid to ask for introductions and don’t be afraid to make introductions for others. For the most part, we are all looking for ways to discover new connections and expand our network.
This is an opportunity for you to do more than just make “the ask”, you can also offer something in return. Perhaps it is an introduction to a colleague, a service provider or other support you can provide from your own network. Remember, the best relationships are built on reciprocity.
- Remember that for any relationship to stand the test of time, you must put in the effort to maintain it. Perhaps an introduction didn’t lead to a business transaction. That doesn’t mean you should let the relationship die on the vine.
Stay in touch, even if it’s less frequently. Sometimes, something as simple as responding to or sharing a social media post from your distant connections can be a small way to show an ongoing interest in the relationship.
Stay positive and look for small ways to remain in contact, you never know when timing might change making your contacts ripe for collaboration.
But perhaps the most important relationship in all of this is the one between you and your business. That’s because you develop a stronger sense of who you are and what you’re capable of as you take your company out into the world.
It will teach you, it will challenge you but it will also create a stronger sense of who you are, what your business is all about and what you’re capable of out in the world.
And that’s one relationship that will never let you down. Which area of building global business relationships do you need to focus on the most for your company’s needs?