Going Global? Go Back to "School"!

Share Article

Nicholas Goh, CEO of Verztec Consulting Pte Ltd, an ISO 9001:2008 certified global content management and localization services company, shares a tip sheet where leveraging on alumni associations have great benefits in promoting international business relations.

Nicholas Goh, CEO of Verztec Consulting Pte Ltd, an ISO 9001:2008 certified global content management and localization services company, shares a tip sheet where leveraging on alumni associations have great benefits in promoting international business relations.

Expanding business horizons overseas is often a bewildering experience. The difficulties of navigating the unfamiliar waters of foreign business norms while charting a course through strange cultures are reefs that have wrecked many intrepid entrepreneurs. How much easier it would be if there were a local guide to help pilot your enterprise.

Luckily, finding such guides can be surprisingly easy, if one knows where to look. CEO of Verztec Consulting Pte Ltd, Nicholas Goh, has found that university alumni associations offer an ideal means of contacting like-minded people in foreign countries.

The Importance of Alumni Associations for Businesses

Despite the importance of education for modern business, after most people graduate from school, they look to the corporate world of events, talks, conferences in expanding their network. Many forget to fall back on their school community, such as alumni associations. There is a misconception that the only thing alumni networks do is solicit funds and send newsletters. This unfortunate perception is far from the truth.

As Rachel Pollack, author of a report for the Council for Advancement and Support of Education "AdvanceWork: Calling All Alumni" points out, alumni associations offer a valuable networking resource, in the sense that the association network spans many years of graduates who, collectively, possess a wide range of experience. Many of these graduates have established their own international business networks, which creates opportunities for further expansion, especially if you're looking to locate a contact to help establish a beachhead for your business in a new territory or market.

The International Dimension

Colleges and universities are, themselves, increasingly international organizations; and the traditional university alumni association now acts as an international network that savvy entrepreneurs and marketing executives can use to their advantage.

A report published by Radford University in the United States points out a current trend in university fundraising, with many universities looking to expand their own international presence by maintaining strong ties with their international alumni members. Some of these schools go so far as to open alumni offices overseas that conduct social and business networking events for their alumni members who are located or visiting there.    

For current students as well as alumni members, this situation presents an opportunity to get a foot in the door in another country - be it to explore networking, business or even career opportunities, including contacting possible local business partners.

Yet even if a business leverages on alumni associations to make contacts overseas, the biggest hurdle to international communication remains. Cultural differences, especially language, can create barriers that even seasoned professionals find difficult to surmount.

Strategies to Maximise International Alumni Connections

As when starting any relationship, there are pitfalls that can be avoided when reaching out to fellow alumnus overseas. To avoid common errors when first contacting potential business partners, remember these tips:

1.    Early stage

When first contacting a fellow alumnus, use basic English until you're aware of their language abilities. Even a simple miscommunication, made in all innocence, can wreck an international business relationship before it gets started. The expertise of a multilingual translation company can be useful in helping one to avoid the potential frustrations of international communication.

2.    Middle stage

As your business relationship becomes more solid, nuances become all the more important in communication. It's a good idea to stay involved with your alumni association in the local scene; there's nothing like immersion to overcome communication barriers and to acquire the local cultural knowledge needed to make your venture succeed.

3.    Late stage

Once your business venture is firmly established, you can begin to create a brand identity that builds on local connections. Your alumni connection will remain extremely important in this late stage, although with the mobility of human capital these days, it's a good idea to keep a translation company as your constant companion as your brand presence spreads beyond the local alumni association network.

Once a business is well and truly entrenched "in-country", your business network will expand beyond your alumni association contacts. Nevertheless, the key to successfully starting up an overseas business is in the relationships that are forged in the initial stages of operation. This is why it is vital to have contacts that present a known quantity--and fellow alumni present an ideal way to find such contacts. As universities continue to reach out to international alumni, it only makes sense to follow tracks that alumni associations have laid to overseas contacts. Even long after graduating, the classroom can lead to the boardroom, from one continent to another.

About the Author:

Nicholas Goh C S is CEO of Verztec Consulting Pte Ltd, a leading global content management and localization services provider headquartered in Singapore. Verztec supports companies around the world to design, develop, adapt, publish and maintain their global marketing communications, corporate communications and corporate training into more than 60 foreign languages.


Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Nicholas Goh
Visit website