Not long ago I was travelling the globe, 90 flights in one year, bouncing between New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and the USA. As a Founder looking for global opportunities that’s how it’s done – pack your bags and off you go.
I actually love to travel, you get to see so many different cultures, processes and people. I am particularly talented at meeting amazing people in random places. I met my friend Rajkumar Ramalingam (Managing Director with Citi Asia) while waiting to be processed through a clogged LAX airport. The power had gone out, he happened to be standing in the queue behind me, and it turned out we were on the same plane from Hong Kong to LAX. What do you do as an extrovert when standing around with people? You chat.
I had a similar experience in an airport lounge in a different country. Now I have an awesome new friend from the USA, who is a Managing Director of a global professional services and technology company.
A good friend of mine who travels as much as I do loves to tease me about how I talk to strangers, how horrifying he thinks this is and asks me perhaps whether I’m a little bit crazy? Well, you know what? I’m curious. Curious about people, where they’re from, what they do, and who they are as people. I’m also friendly, I like to talk to people and understand what makes them tick. Surely this is helpful as an entrepreneur when creating products that real people will use. Most importantly though, the new people I meet flavour and enrich my life, and allow me to grow my network in different parts of the world - all the way from Wellington New Zealand.
Now that the gate’s shut, things are a little different.
How do we network and build relationships from afar? How do we make friends and create amazing business opportunities in other places?
I reckon the first place to start is with the people who already know and love you including friends, family and school mates. There is a stack of New Zealanders working for great companies all over the world, and given we have about a 1.5 degree of separation, the first step is questioning how you can connect with the right people using your existing network.
Kea Organisation and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise are a great source of information and support. Don’t forget the big global organisations in New Zealand that have offices elsewhere either - shake them all down for connections and introductions. Global partnerships and joint ventures will get the job done too.
Form partnerships, join like-minded organisations, build alliances and agreements that benefit all, and deliver something outstanding for joint clients.
Global Networks – what is around and what can they offer?
I’m grateful to be an Alumnae of a very powerful, USA originated group of fierce women called Springboard Enterprises. Within this global group, we support one another to grow and promote women-founded businesses with global scalability potential.
This organisation works tirelessly to promote, connect, partner, and kick open doors for the 800 global women in this network – and I’m very pleased to see the recent partnership with Accenture. A global Technology business focused on delivering world-class tools and services to its clients.
If you have global aspirations and intend to open offices in other countries then try that country's embassy in New Zealand. You will be creating jobs, paying tax and contributing to the growth of that country too so it’s a win-win. We have a great relationship with the United States embassy in Wellington led by Ambassador Scott Brown. He is hugely networked and has been extremely helpful in connecting us with the right people, in the right places.
So, the gates might be shut for the moment, and we may need to take a different approach, but business is still getting done and we need to be a part of it. So let’s take a moment, lift our eyes again to the world and work out how to get around that bloody gate.