A couple of years ago, Laurel Delaney was interviewed by a major international bank. The bank (name withheld for confidentiality purposes) was eager to help their small business clients expand internationally. That interview will be published here in two parts.
In this first installment, Laurel explains how to get in the global game and, once you're there, how to use social networking tools to grow your business.
Where do you turn to find out if an overseas market is ripe for your type of product or service offering?
On behalf of our clients, we always look at markets that are similar to the U.S. Over 60 percent of initial exports from U.S. companies are originally sent to Canada or the United Kingdom. Mexico is also a frequent export destination because of the close proximity and the benefits of NAFTA.
Next, we turn to:
You can find information by country with key people to contact categorized by industry, should you have questions. The Gold Key Service is effective as well.
And then once we find a country that seems like a perfect fit for a client’s products, we check in at The World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings, which provides objective measures of business regulations and their enforcement across 181 economies.
On food products, we look at the United States Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service. They create economic opportunity for American agriculture by expanding global markets.
How do you leverage social media and networking platforms to grow a business globally?
The best way to leverage social media and networking platforms such as a blog is to keep your audience (followers) as informed as possible on what you are doing with your business and why it matters.
A while back, I caught a fabulous spread by Fast & Company entitled “Social Networks Are More Than Networking.” You can check it out to get a broader outlook on the importance of these platforms.
The trick is to set up an overall corporate strategy, if you will, on social networking and social media. Appoint someone within your organization to be the champion (or CDE: Chief Digital Evangelist) behind it and get to work. Strive for consistency, continuity and robustness (meaning, share substantial material or information with your constituency base).
As you grow your platforms (blog, LinkedIn,, Twitter, wikis, Facebook, etc.), people worldwide will reach out to connect with you. That’s a time to reach back to them and determine how you can do business together!
Is Twitter important? Can it help reach a global audience? If so, what should you be doing to tap into it?
Yes, Twitter is important for working globally. Yes, it can help you reach a global audience!
What should you be doing to tap into it?
I am so glad you asked!
I’ll use my company as an example. Twitter me: http://twitter.com/laureldelaney
I use Twitter primarily to broaden my firm’s constituency base and further set us apart as the ultimate global small business expert and management consultant. It’s not about chatting endlessly; it’s about promoting my company’s expertise, service offerings, core competencies and capabilities. You should be doing the very same thing for your company.
Interestingly enough, as yet, I have never sent a broadcast out to family, friends or business colleagues asking them to follow me on Twitter! Followers find me through my online published work and helpful forums such as American Express OPEN Forum and the Community Forum over at About.com’s Export and Import site, which I manage. So you don’t have to beg people to follow you. If you and your work matter, people will find you. But, again, tweets of substance helps get you to the top of the Twitter charts, and the more you tweet, the greater the chance of corralling additional followers.
These are two great articles on Twitter that helped me develop a better understanding of what it is and how to use it:
See you in Twitterland!