How do I build networks?


Networks can encompass everything from friends, peers and other companies operating in similar markets, to professionals such as lawyers and accountants, to mentors and advisers, to government contacts, and critically, market partners. Establishing broad and deep networks is a critical success factor in exporting and operating in a global supply chain. There are some simple things you can do to build your networks:

Industry associations
Every industry has at least one association which represents the interests of its members. Associations range in size and role but many will provide basic resources for members, publish a regular magazine with industry news and updates, organise events and provide a forum for sharing advice and knowledge.

Industry events and conferences
Industry events are a great way to meet peers and learn about their experiences as well as connect with potential customers. Organisations which provide support for exporters, such as Austrade and Export Finance Australia, also host regular events providing information and advice for SMEs.

Trade shows
Trade shows or expos both in Australia and in overseas markets are a great way to meet potential partners and customers by showcasing your goods and services.

Face-to-face meetings
Travelling overseas and meeting local potential partners is vital. If you don’t know where to start, Austrade has on-the-ground representatives in a wide range of markets who can help you with introductions by setting up appointments with buyers which  have a good fit for you.

We’ve done lots of international trade shows. It did help us get set up in lots of markets that way. Carolyn Creswell, Carman’s Kitchen.

You may go to the trade show and set up your stand… that has a component [in business development]. What I’ve found to be more important is that they can see your presence in that market. Sean Ashby, aussieBum.

Hear from some of panellists at our recent SME briefings on how they built their networks