Developing international business might seem daunting, but it’s not as difficult as it seems. Instead, think of it as developing and nurturing relationships with people you actually like. Not only does that take the intimidation quotient out of it, it takes the “work” out of it, too.
Bill Caton, owner and managing broker of Caton Commercial Real Estate Group, has traveled internationally for this specific purpose.
His first trip was to MIPIM in Cannes, France, the largest commercial investment conference in Europe. “By going there, I was able to see a whole different perspective of the world,” he said. “Previous to that, I had attended ICSC (Illinois Council of Shopping Centers) in Las Vegas, so I had a concept of what this conference might be like. However, I was very surprised when I got there, that there was a huge difference between them.”
“At MIPIM it’s more about developing relationships,” explained Gary Clayton, CEO of Illinois Association of Realtors. “There is no instantaneous gratification as far as products, sales and investments. It’s a relationship that evolves, and they have evolved. Our members have, and continue to have, relationships and investment opportunities with the participants of MIPIM. Those participants are countries, cities -it’s a massive endeavor—there are 20,000+ people at just one pavilion.”
The second year Caton attended MIPIM, he found that if he attended an event about which he was passionate, or interested, the people attending that event would have the same passion or interest. As a result, he has developed valuable relationships, turning them into some of his best clients. One of those people came from Germany after Caton’s second year attending, and remains a client today. In fact, this year he brought back five possibilities for investors, all looking to bring money back into the United States.
While at the conference, Caton said, “I always got there early, got a spot up front so I could interact with the speakers or, if I wanted to talk to a speaker, at least I could get there. And, I was able to interact with people in the group …This formula can work at any convention or place you go to. Be prepared, set your schedule and, of course, follow up.”
For additional information on developing international business, watch this video from the Commercial Global Business Network (CGBN).