Many entrepreneurs are looking to develop a global presence. This may, in time, lead to global opportunities.
In a period of economic slowdown, it makes sense to stretch ourselves into broader market segments. But how do you do this when the only people you know “overseas” are friends and family? You need a broader network of the right contacts who can help you leverage your global branding.
Think of your current circle of geographic influence – if you were to draw a circle on a world map, how big is your influence? You want to start to stretch your circle. Or, if we’re still using a world map, you want to start adding a lot more pins of places where you’re connected to globally influential people.
1. Smarten up
When you reach out to global contacts, they must feel confident that you and your business will be a value-add in their networks so start your missive by smartening up your branding on your social networks.
Remember that some people may cross-check social platforms so don’t only pay attention to LinkedIn, for example.
Be sure to include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter – where ever you have a presence online. Review each of these profiles to ensure that the image you’re sharing with your new global contacts will have them want to be connected to you.
2. Regular research
Who are the globally influential people in your industry? Who writes white papers or talks at global events or is the go-to person on another continent? You’ll want to set aside time each day to research your global playing field. Why daily? Because building a strong network is not an overnight activity.
This is a big world. If you want to reach out to others beyond your borders, you need committed and consistent action. In your research you will not only learn the names and faces of people you want to reach out to and include in your contact list, but your global industry knowledge will become up to date, fresh and relevant also.
3. Reach-out across the virtual borders
In my experience, a social media platform like Linkedin is no longer as guarded as it used to be and people willingly accept connection requests.
Influential people usually have many contacts and enjoy having more. Because people connect with people who know people they know, see where you have joint connections with some of your identified people. If the person accepts your request, I suggest writing a short note to say thank you and the reason why you reached out to connect with them.
Be generous and complimentary. Do not, at this point (or at any point in the first few months of connecting to each other) suggest that you might do business together. Don’t put the task before the person.
Relationship building first is critical for a genuinely strong network.
4. Build virtual relationships by giving value
Now is your chance to demonstrate yourself as a valuable contact. What do you give to your contacts each day? I’m not talking about a free e-book or the link to your site.
I’m talking about the content you offer to add value to all the other content that people are giving each other on social platforms. What is your contribution to this collective space?
How can your contacts learn something new each time you post? What can you share that will have your contacts say “Wow, this is an interesting person”? Avoid sharing political or religious issues.
Everyone else is sharing that. Rather, choose to appear globally-minded, culturally sensitive, evocative and potentially fascinating. Remember that giving value is also about engaging with your new contacts content. Appreciate what they share, leave a comment, start a conversation. This is how friendship is built.
5. Combine work with leisure
Where are you planning your next holiday? Somewhere local or somewhere international? If you’re serious about building a global network consider setting aside a day on your next trip to connect with some of these people in person.
It needn’t cost too much extra if you budget well; choose Uber, stay at an AirBnB apartment – you know, tap into all these shared economy global networks.
This is an opportunity to let your contact know how much you value being in a global network with them. If you’re done the groundwork of giving value before you meet, it’s very likely that your contact will be ready and willing to put you in touch with others who can help you on your journey toward global presence.