The LCCI/UKTI trade delegation to Vietnam last week was my second ever mission, the first being Singapore in May, and confirmed to me that they are extremely good value and worth the investment in time and energy - if you are serious about exploring business opportunities abroad.
Aspire Global Network is a recruitment business comprising six brands specialising in the media, advertising, digital and market research sector. We have offices/businesses in London, Sydney & since July this year, Singapore. Our vision is to be a ‘global network of leading specialist recruitment companies’ and therefore our interest in delegations,
I assume there are two ways of exploring new markets.
One is to do it yourself, plough your own furrow, do your own research and organise your own entertainment. The other is to join a delegation. The mission to Vietnam was preceded by a briefing on the country, the culture, opportunities and challenges. Once signed up there was a follow up briefing giving more detail, particularly on customs and culture – what to do and what not to do in meetings etc. There is an opportunity to contract UKTI to map your market and set up meetings for you if that is not easy to do yourself via LinkedIn or other associations.
Once I was confirmed on the mission I went to work identifying the companies and people I wanted to see. This I found easy due to LinkedIn and our existing clients with contacts in the country. Every person responded to my request and all offered meetings if they were in town. What was excellent is that I was able to invite my contacts to official receptions hosted by the UK Government in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. The majority of my contacts were delighted to attend such prestigious events and they were an excellent ice breaker in meetings either before or after the receptions.
The mission ran very smoothly with an itinerary organised by LCCI and UKTI that included in-depth briefings on the economy and legalities of trading in Vietnam, plus networking events with the Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce. The LCCI and UKTI staff bent over backwards trying to organising meetings for people you wanted to see – usually successfully – nothing was too much trouble.
Every evening there was a venue we could all go to as a group, whether a restaurant or bar and this was when the hidden value of a delegation became apparent. Talking to and I hope becoming friends with others facing the same challenges. Lots of opportunity to listen and learn, share a few drinks and have a lot of laughs. Less possible if you are trying to explore a market on your own.
So to anyone seeking to explore opportunities abroad contact your chamber or UKTI and seek out their delegations. They organise your time, your fun and you meet like minded people who have a lot of advice and experience that they willingly offer. For Aspire Global Network count us in on the trip to China next spring – and hope to meet you there