Some recent examples of how a startup company in Seinäjoki, Finland started to develop its own worldwide network…
‘Whenever I come to one of these events, I see the Xport team.’
‘I see you guys everywhere.’
‘I noticed that you’ve been busy on Facebook.’
These are a few comments that were made to me recently which made me think about, and compare, ways in which we have tried to build the profile of Xport since we launched in January 2014. There have also been recent incidents of connecting with people, on a worldwide scale, which I wanted to share.
In November 2013, before the company was launched, we were invited to attend a meeting at the local Chamber of Commerce (Etelä-Pohjanmaa Kauppakamari). What I didn’t realise is that this would include a ‘speed-dating’ networking exercise. A tall order for someone that was only seven weeks into his first Finnish language course, but I cobbled together a few sentences that seemed to make sense, and I was able to introduce myself and the basic idea of the company to some local business owners. Despite my stumbling syntax, I learned pretty quickly that there was a lot of goodwill and support in Etelä-Pohjanmaa towards new companies.
We joined the Chamber and the Federation of Finnish Enterprises (Yrittäjät) and started to attend their member meetings, getting our faces known by the organisers and meeting new people each time. After one of these meetings, I saw the old adage “somebody who knows somebody” in action. A few months ago, I introduced service-provider to a potential customer. The selling company recentlyphoned to thank me as they had subsequently met and agreed to do business together, which not only made me feel good, but also helps position the Xport team as having useful connections.
I was recently introduced to an article online which had a lot of relevance to the services that Xport are offering. I tried using one or two techniques in the article and, afterwards, wanted to reach out to the author to show my appreciation (and to let them know that Xport exists!) I found them on LinkedIn and sent an InMail. A little while later, Xport published the article ‘2 Thought Provoking New Theories to make Exporting Easier for Finnish SMEs’ / ‘2 ajatuksia herättävää uutta teoriaa miten tehdä PK-Yritysten viennistä helpompaa’ this time we directly quoted the author, so I sent a second InMail with a link to the article, this time she replied and we agreed to a Skype meeting to see how we might cooperate in future.
The LinkedIn effect also helped me get a quick introduction to a particular sales target. The relevant director happened to be a former colleague of an old friend. A connection I would not have known about without LinkedIn. Finding a common contact forms an instant reference and breaks down barriers more easily.
Finally, we have made an effort to reach out to Finnish Chambers of Commerce overseas. Through these we have been contacted by useful contacts in the UK, USA, Brazil and Africa. With each one we are preparing Xport to deal with future questions, or business opportunities, by developing our own network ready to cooperate with us to drive sales for our customers (and ultimately for us!)
20.8.2014 Mark Wiltshear, Co-founder, Xport