Take The Leads?

The Internet is good for approximately one billion things. You'd think international trade leads would be one of them.

Although the Internet is sometimes hailed as one of the greatest business tools developed this century, there's at least one commercial activity for which it is often more trouble than it's worth: finding good international trade leads.

Every global entrepreneur should be aware of this apparent Net aberration. "The overwhelming majority of [trade] leads you find on the Internet are garbage," says international business consultant Jeffrey P. Graham, president of JPG Consulting in Philadelphia. "Usually, out of every hundred leads published, no more than three are even worth pursuing. Big companies have the human resources to sift through everything and find the good ones, but small businesses just don't have the manpower."

As a former executive director of the South Carolina World Trade Center, J.E. "Dewey" Teske has experienced this phenomenon firsthand. "There's a huge number of wannabes [to watch out for] who have an e-mail account and think they're going to do tons of trading," says Teske, who now works as an international trade consultant in Charleston, South Carolina. "At the trade center, it took the constant effort of a staff of five to qualify those leads."

Christopher D. Lancette is an Atlanta-area freelance journalist who covers international business for a variety of local, national and international publications.

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This article was originally published in the January 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Take The Leads?.

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