Dominate the globe- train yourself!
If you are interested in becoming a dedicated international professional, there are many ways to achieve this. In today’s competitive 21st century environment being a domestic business professional is becoming increasingly a dead-end. Statistics and all demographic trends continue to support the idea that you will need to diversify your business to conduct operations in more than one country.
Learning to become an International Businessman is no longer an option. It is now and will continue to be necessary and essential for one’s survival. How do you suppose you can attempt to sell to 4% of the population (less than 5% if you include Canada) when your competitors are beginning to convert 10, 20, 50, and even 90% of the world’s population into their overall target market?
The good news is that there are ways to prepare for conducting business abroad even if you have never done business before.
It does not matter if you have an unlimited expense account with a Fortune 500 contract or if you own a corner store in the outskirts of Wichita, you can begin to practice the main principles of international business within a short period of time. From your home town, you can try 9 out of the 10 of these ways to turn yourself into an international business practitioner. If you want to know exactly how to become a foreign businessman- read my article: how to become a foreign business owner in 1 year. Here are 10 great ways to become an international businessman:
Live la vida loca
1) Move abroad for a minimum of 6 months (preferably 1 year)- While you may be able to form an abundance of connections online, there is no way to truly get to learn the business environment and community then in going to the country itself. People in most other countries will be willing to meet with you face to face more so than here in the U.S. Life is generally slower and people do not place as much of an emphasis on conserving time. It will generally be easier to form connections and to get to know people due to the general longer length of meetings. Many of the businesses in your industry will not have as strong if any online presence at all in many cases. By going to the country you will be able to visit the food manufacturers and industrial distribution warehouses and meet the executives and stake holders on the spot. These decision makers will place you on the top of their lists and remember you more so than most or other foreigners.
By living abroad you will become accustomed the difference in a culture and to the language. I suggest 1 year as opposed to six months so you can learn the language reasonably well. Remember that learning the language is not just about learning the particular language that you are learning but also about getting used to learning languages period.
Now for the cheaper and less life altering options….
2) Attend local ethnic meetings/events- Chances are if you live in even a mid-size U.S metro, there are multiple ethnic cultural clubs or groups in your region such as churches, sports teams, language and cultural groups, and even restaurants. If you can put yourself in a situation where you are a minority and you feel initially as an outsider, you are taking a big step to prepare for an international business career. If you make a commitment to stay in the group for a certain period of time you will put pressure on yourself to fit in and to succeed. For example, make yourself attend a Spanish-speaking soccer team club to watch games once a week at club. You will be surprised on how open most people will be within these groups to allow a non-ethnic member into the club provided that you make an effort to fit in. Remember the point of joining this type of group is to learn how to overcome the feeling of being an outsider, becoming used to the discomfort, and developing the will to surpass this feeling. If you commit to doing this, chances are you will be able to become accustomed to putting yourself in an environment you are not used to and you will learn- Pour ice water on yourself!
3) Begin to make transactions on Alibaba.com
- On the world’s largest import/export site you can buy and or sell to people all over the world. You will immediately become familiar with who certain players and industries that you are looking to work in. You will also begin to get a sense of pricing of the products that you are looking to move. You will also get used to negotiating and you will make plenty of contacts.
Learn the ways of Alibaba
4) Arrange teleconferences with connections on Linkedin- Simply making a connection online is not enough. You need to begin to getting used to talking to people in other parts of the world and knowing how to deal with certain differences. The good news is that this is very easy to make connections on Linkedin with business people in India, Brazil, and in Poland. Read my article How to sell $10K contracts to foreigners to learn how to identify exactly how to identify these targets. Once you make the connection, offer to do a call to discuss each other’s mutual interest and see if it makes sense to network. If you find some one interested in your product or service, score! If you find some one who is not interested or who does not have an immediate need for your product or service but that knows people who may, score! If you speak to some one who has no interest in your offering and does not know anyone it can benefit, at least you are practicing an international call.
It is so easy to make connections here
5) Attend larger industry conferences in major cities- Usually in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Miami, and in Washington D.C there are usually numerous large conferences per year where many multi-national companies are present. Many companies are American companies that have a strong foreign presence and many are foreign companies will have representatives there. Conferences are not the most efficient places to meet people who have much interest in your product or service; however, the intent of going to conferences for your sake is simply to collect international contacts.
6) Arrange meetings and embassies and consulates with representatives- This is method is absolutely golden. Why? Imagine if you were looking to only do business in your local area and you were able to go to the neighboring towns and meet people who would not only put you in touch with companies that are looking to do business in your town. This is exactly what foreign dignitaries are doing for their countries. Many of these countries are rich full of opportunities to either invest, receive investment, or start businesses. The people who work in the developmental part of the embassies or consulates or the commerce departments are there specifically to increase business and commerce and therefore will be able to provide to you a wealth of information on industries within their country and perhaps they will make connections for you. If you call these departments and you say that you are doing research for a worthy purpose, such as university, non-profit, etc, they will usually meet with you and make time and space at the embassy. See some examples here of Developmental and commerce departments within embassies
7) Establish a foreign business blog
- If you already have a U.S based
Get your message through international waters
business and you are looking to spread your brand to another market without traveling there extensively or even at all, start a blog catered to the certain market. You may have to write in a new language or not but if you do your research and you know enough about the market, you can start a website in a foreign server and position the blog in social media and in online advertisement pages that will cater to the local market. Example (show foreign blog operated from another country).
8) Attend classes or events at a major university- If you live near a major university either public or private, there is almost defiantly a large population of international students. The large benefit for those who hope of an international business career is that the majority of these very international students in North American universities are from upper class families. This likely means that these are people with connections to lots of money and business opportunities within their own countries. You can make many connections with international students on the spot right where you live. It is usually pretty easy to make these connections as most students are always looking to meet new people.
9) Frequent local ethnic restaurants in your area and get to know the workers/patrons
-THE FRONT LINE OF FIRST HAND INFORMATION
. This step could be the easiest one of all. This step is different then step #2 because you are speaking to common workers, not to targeted groups. In every major city and in every secondary city there are large ethnic enclaves of immigrants and temporary workers who are in this part of the world with either the intent to eventually become citizens or to spend a temporary period of time here. I know what many of you are thinking, aren’t these going to be mostly lower-income people who need work? How would they possibly have connections or opportunities for me to do business in their own home countries? KNOWLEDGE OF THE MARKET is the answer. These very people from Colombia, Mexico, Ethiopia, Vietnam, and Thailand can often tell you which companies are the main players in certain industries, what the overall consumer sentiment is of each of these products/services, what the pricing structure is like, which parts of living in those countries makes it difficult: is there a shortage of a certain product/service? Is a certain product or service inferior in quality? If you find out this information, you now have information on various business opportunities delivered to you on a plate.
Get down with the locals- they are the smartest people in the world
10) The most important method of all: Think Globally. Pretty cliché right? We read and hear so much banter on thinking globally and acting like a global citizen. All of the company slogans and commercials shove a message that sounds similar to this down our throat. But what does it actually mean? Well for most companies it is a public relations message to come across as worldly. However, if most of us stood back and considered the statement, here is what it truly means and why it is consistently used in advertising campaigns:
- You need to think of your business market as the map of the globe. Akron should be considered as much as of your market potential as Athens and Chicago should be considered as much as Shanghai. If you are looking to sell a shoe design and are looking for an ideal market where you can find success, don’t just research your back yard, but research the demographics and the characteristics of people half way across the world. How do you know that your SAS platform has more of a market in your home town than in South Korea or Australia? How do you know that the people in your market have more of a need for your product than people in other countries?
- Again this brings us back to the question: Why focus on 4% of the world market and ignore the other 96%?