My Business Gets Referrals From All Over the World -- Here Are 4 Strategies for Building a Global Network
In today's market, thinking global is the only way to think.
When I moved from London to Los Angeles to start my real estate career, I remained in contact with my network overseas. While my focus was on the Los Angeles market, I knew that one day, I would have clients from all over the world. My partner James Harris and I think of luxury real estate as a global business. The top luxury real estate cities around the world share more in common with each other than cities within their own home country. One of my first clients was a friend from London who was looking for a second home in Los Angeles. After I found him the perfect home, he referred me to his colleague who was relocating to Los Angeles. That led to another referral, and I suddenly had multiple clients from all over the world that were looking for second and third homes in Los Angeles. It occurred to me that if I built up my global network, I could build a thriving referral business and after a few years, my global referral business is on fire.
In today's market, thinking global is the only way to think. There are many global markets with robust economies that conduct a ton of business with U.S.-based companies. Here are four steps to building a global network.
Step 1: Research global markets.
Research is the most important part of building a global network. You can find information about global markets with an easy search online. Look for viable markets that can benefit from your product or service. Be sure to research the market conditions and educate yourself on the laws regarding international business. Search for business consultants that specialize in your industry and be sure to do your due diligence to ensure that they are reputable with a track record of success. When I look for real estate partners in other countries, I will take a look at their listing inventory and past sales to gauge their success.
Step 2: Propose a partnership.
Harris and I have an international partnership with Savills, one of the world's largest real estate firms. Established in 1855, it has over 700 offices throughout the Americas, Europe, Asia Pacific, Africa and the Middle East. This allows us to offer our clients a global reach and provides a value proposition to provide our clients with a global network of buyers. If you work in real estate, find out if your firm has a partnership with an international agency and research to find a partner that you'd like to do business with. If you are a small business or startup, find similar businesses in your industry overseas and make a target list of potential partners and simply send an email to introduce yourself and explain your desire to find global partners. Smart business people are always looking for ways to do more business so chances are you'll receive a response, and you can continue the conversation from there.
Step 3: Lead the way.
When you've received a response from a potential partner overseas, it is your job to keep the conversation going. You took the lead in reaching out and he or she will expect you to continue to lead the efforts. Develop a strategy and action plan and send a proposal for how you envision your partnership to work. Think of how you can provide something of immediate benefit to your new contact and make an offer to do so. Taking the lead to create a strategy that makes sense and delivering on your promise will inspire trust and starts the relationship off on the right foot. No one likes to waste time, so if you don't have a plan of action, and a strategy to continue the conversation, the contact will move on and you'll be long forgotten. Your emails may never be returned again because if nothing came from your initial outreach, the assumption is that nothing ever will.
Step 4: Formalize the relationship.
Now that you've found a global partner to do business with, and developed a viable plan of action, draft a contract to formalize your partnership. It is always best to consult with an attorney before entering into business with someone from another country. You'll want to speak with an attorney that is well versed in international trade law. If you are a small business or start up, try to get some pro bono advice. Building a global network can be very profitable, however, it can also be very costly if any mistakes are made that subject you to liability.
You can buy things from all over the world with the click of the mouse, so why not explore the possibilities of building a global network? You'd be surprised by the additional revenue streams you can generate by tapping into global markets.
I am thrilled to be a new contributor for Entrepreneur.com and would love to hear from you! Tweet me questions to @Dparnes and tag @Entrepreneur and I will answer some of your questions in future articles.