NY Report hosted the International CEO Roundtable in February, a morning that cultivated informative discussions among business leaders who operate internationally. This invitation-only event, sponsored by HSBC, featured four moderated discussions. The roundtables were followed by a panel discussion of the highlights from each group. Read some of the highlights below.
To reach qualified audiences overseas, online strategies can be just as effective as they are for marketing to domestic customers. One of the discussions centered on ways to get in front of clients, generate leads, and how to engage in relevant foreign markets through LinkedIn. While they agreed this business-oriented social media tool doesn’t have the same value of face-to-face meetings or trade show attendance, it is a way to get the conversation started before hopping on a flight. “LinkedIn is a step in the sales process,” said roundtable moderator Jordan Finger. “It’s a way to prospect and qualify a potential lead.”
One attendee was looking to do business in India and he placed an email blast through a LinkedIn group with members in the Indian market. The outreach produced leads that helped him connect with potential clients and vendors overseas.
Emerging markets are experiencing rapid growth and industrialization. When doing business in these markets, local partners are especially important. One CEO group discussed the importance of leveraging local partners and learning cultural norms in the countries you plan on doing business. “The key to doing business abroad successfully is having a local partner who can help you navigate the market in their country,” moderator Alex Gordin said.
When entering a new market, it is important to adapt to the local mindsets to attract more clients, vendors, and partners of other cultures. “In the United States, we are a very individualistic society, but to succeed internationally, we have to transfer that independent work ethic into a collaborative effort and start building as a team,” moderator Mitesh Lakhani said. “We have to look out for their benefit, too.”
By adapting to the collective approach to business, American businesses will be on the same page with their potential international clients or partners. This understanding will keep conversations, negotiations, and deals running smoother.
|Photography by Jeffrey Holmes|
Unique risks in emerging markets
Gordin also discussed how business in emerging markets is especially affected by political situations. “There are some markets that are volatile to political changes, so within these sectors, it’s important to have political risk insurance and have an in-depth market understanding that’s beyond the surface,” said Gordin.
Gordin gave the example of an investor or businessperson who was looking to expand to Libya or Egypt—places where up-risings, a change in government powers, and riots recently changed the economic structure. An entrepreneur can obtain political risk insurance that’s backed by the US government to help alleviate some of the risk: “Due to political violence, up-rising or severe changes in economics caused by local governments, business owners can have trouble converting their currencies and suffer a loss in income,” Gordin said. “This insurance protects them from things out of their control.” Political risk insurance is offered for approximately 160 countries by OPIC (opic.gov) and MIGA (miga.org) or through the World Bank. Gordin said some private insurers offer this specific type of protection to investors and businesses. The government also offers protection for those who are exporting overseas through Export-Import Bank of the US (exim.gov).
In addition to currency risks and trade-oriented risks, partners can be a source of risk that business owners may not initially consider. While local partners are critical to success in emerging markets, Lakhani’s group discussed why it’s essential to shop around and not just link up with the first potential partner you meet. “Just because you meet someone, it doesn’t mean he or she is the appropriate contact to work with,” Lakhani said. Lakhani suggests putting potential partners through scrutiny tests by using contacts from various organizations. As an example, participants within this group noted different embassies, worldwide organizations, Rotary clubs, and chambers of commerce who help businesses.
“Once you have your foot in the door, you have to have an appropriate business survival strategy—not just from the environment, but to also protect yourself from a local vendor who could go against you. Reduce your risk by building your reputation and using word-of-mouth to build contacts and relationships,” Lakhani said.
Exporting to emerging markets
Lindsay Tigar is the Editorial Assistant at The New York Enterprise Report. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.