Making and maintaining a connection with the right people is essential to exporting. Because it’s convenient to communicate online, it can be tempting to rely solely on email and Skype, particularly when the market you’re exporting to is distant.
But face-to-face communication can often be more effective in building and reinforcing your business relationships, and in some countries it’s expected. Spain, for example, expects business to be based on direct, face-to-face relationships (this is also true in many southern European countries). Refer to the Exporting country guides from the Department for International Trade (DIT) to learn more about cultural considerations for doing business in your target market.
Whatever your route to market, it’s worth making the extra effort to visit the country you’re exporting to as often as you can reasonably afford. You’ll be able to personally assess products or services competing with yours, whether they’re locally manufactured or supplied by other exporters from the UK or elsewhere. DIT’s Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS) can help arrange one-to-one meetings with potential partners or customers in many countries.
Read our advice on researching your market for more on how to make good use of OMIS and other organisations, including the British Chambers of Commerce and the Federation of Small Businesses.