A trade mission gives you the opportunity to connect with potential business partners and clients when looking to do business internationally.
It’s defined as a coordinated overseas visit by a group of business executives to meet potential buyers or agents, usually after an initial market research by a chamber of commerce, industry or trade association, or the visitors' embassy, and often accompanied by a small exposition. Many trade missions even utilize a matchmaker who is able to arrange high-quality, company-specific business meetings, which match your company’s objectives to that of new contacts, on your trip abroad.
I’ve worked with companies as part of a Grow Export program with Kisserup International Trade Roots and the Atlantic Trade and Investment Growth Strategy partnership who were going on a trade mission. To prepare for the mission, I hosted on Webinar on what to expect for the trade mission and how to articulate their value proposition throughout the trade mission.
The Market and Entrepreneurship Development department of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal notes that the golden rule of any trade mission is preparation. Erandi Motte Cortés, the Director of said department, explains that “a trade mission is obviously an investment for the exporter, but if they take the time to thoroughly prepare and plan, it can be an opportunity to expand their business.”
With that in mind a trade mission can be broken down into three key areas: (1) planning, (2) execution, and (3) follow-up.
Preparation will determine whether or not you have a successful trade mission. So before you embark on your trade mission be sure to:
Set objectives: make sure your trade objectives are realistic and keep them in mind.
Attend a seminar: learn more about the mission, meet other participants, and to better understand the business culture in the country where you will be travelling.
Research contacts: work with your matchmaker to identify contacts in the country where you will be travelling.
Create your pitch: prepare your pitch to be delivered as a pitch and a 30-second elevator pitch.
Determine a budget: be sure to allocate a budget for the mission.
When you’re on the trade mission be sure to make the most of the situation. While it’s important to keep in touch with your business back home, don’t stay glued to your phone. Be present and be open to making new connections. Some critical tips for your trade mission include:
Prepare for your meetings.
Get the most out of the time between meetings to gather even more data on the market.
Speak to as many people as possible during networking activities.
In the case of a trade fair, being proactive, smiling, and demonstrating interpersonal skills are essential.
However, be sure not to underestimate the importance of local business practices and to not base the success of your project on one single mission.
After you’ve returned from a mission, remember to set aside time for post-trade mission activities. This includes:
Summarizing your participation in a report, detailing the people you met.
Debriefing your colleagues to get them on board with new activities.
Following-up with new business contacts who can be valuable to your business either now or in the future.
A trade mission is a great opportunity for any company to expand their business. In order to get the most out of your mission, spend considerable time preparing for the mission and remember to follow-up with any new business contacts that you make.