Building your International Business Network
By: Elizabeth Jasmine Alexis
In today’s web based society, it is now easier than ever to communicate with people all across the world. With internet web conferences, web collaboration apps, and even social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter, you can now spread your message and connect with people you have never even seen in person. But how can the use of these tools translate easily to the corporate environment? Where do you draw the line between friends on Facebook and business partners? Here are some tips to help you utilize the world wide web for networking, international connections, and to better your company overall.
1. Get in the Game
First things first, before you can make international connections you must come into contact with potential international business partners. Your first step to networking via the internet should be to join sites such as Viadeo, Internations, Sandbox Network, Meetingwave, GeeksOnaPlane and Orkut or any of the countless others. All these networking sites listed have a very strong presence in various countries outside of the US and are gaining a strong following within our 50 states. If you are looking to expand your company’s international connections worldwide, start here by making a profile and browsing others that have a similar interest as your company. Many of these sites are also application only to ensure that the companies that are being represented are reputable.
2. Make your Internet Presence Internationally Friendly
Although many people in the corporate world can speak English, having the option to view your international profile in multiple languages makes your page seem a lot more open to international business connections. A simple gesture like this can set you apart from someone who only has their profile in English. You should also try to educate yourself on international business ethnics, as customs vary widely across cultures. It is very important to not offend potential business partner, especially if these relationship could someday lead to international business connections.
3. Don’t Forget about Your Home Base
Although creating international profiles is extremely important, you should first utilize the networking tools that are popular in the US. Before you can trust that your profile will attract international attention and interest, first upgrade your Facebook and LinkedIn profiles with new pictures, updates and improvements in company policies. Making connections at your home base, (or the US) is very important for creating a good foundation for your company’s presence on the web. As your company’s online presence becomes stronger, you might even find yourself being invited to many “invite only” networking groups overseas.
4. Attend International Conferences and Webinars Online
Webinars and live-stream video conferences are some of the easiest ways to get involved and educated about other’s companies and products. Be sure you attend these events, and if you are interested in making a business connection, make a point to stay afterwards and discuss this with whomever is running the event. The one-on-one conversation that you might have with a business colleague after an event in person is no different than the one you can have online. Some of the best opportunities present themselves when you work your hardest and show interest and passion in your work, and taking this extra step will show others that you are serious about your business. Take note of any contact information the host of the event provided, and when your company hosts a webinar invite them as well. This small invitation can be the start of a great business connection.
5. Try to Meet Your Contacts Whenever Possible
Whether you are on vacation, a conference abroad, or attending a corporate event outside of your city, it is extremely important to try to meet your online contacts whenever you possibly can. This can help make your connection even stronger, by subconsciously breaking down the internet barrier and helping your contact put a name to a face. After all, at the end of the day we are all real people. A simple gesture like this can show how serious you are about making or maintain a business connection.