Staying local while keeping global
Since it became clear that Brexit was a reality, many businesses have been considering how they might reach out to a global market or develop global teams.
Since the lockdown was implemented, that has had to be done from the comfort of living room sofas and dining room tables. With air travel no longer an option how do you establish or manage those global teams?
Sarah Goodall of Tribal Impact and Dr Emily Yarrow share their combined experience of managing and researching international HR management by answering your questions live.
Sarah: The platform for connection is any social media channel, the classic platform for us starts with LinkedIn, it is the most up to date database. When people move from job to job their business profile might not update but their LinkedIn profile definitely does. It is a really good place to start building connections with people. That’s how we grew our business, through online relationships.
Sarah: When you start engaging with others e.g. liking peoples pictures, commenting and even re-sharing their posts. You will get to a point where you can start sharing your own content, and you start to see people engaging with your content. It is like a social media maturity model, where people start from zero and then start to move in different ways. Getting on that journey is a good place to start.
Emily: There is a real importance to be strategic but to be genuine at the same time. Thinking about my audience, who is my audience? And who I want my audience to be in the future? How can I help them? And how can they help me? It’s about developing meaningful fellowship and maintaining those existing relationships. There are now opportunities to attend global networking events where no travel at all is required.
Sarah: Think about the community instead of just connections
Emily: It’s about communication as that underpins everything. It’s asking what is it as an organisation that we can do? What is it that our employees need, and how can we support them? Loosely structured check-ins and socials. It’s about giving everyone an equal voice and planning for the future to give people hope. It’s about making people feel trust in the company. There can be high levels of resistance to change, but trust-building and communication are integral to that. It’s about responsiveness, agility and flexibility not just in decision-making but around communication and how we do business.
Sarah: Every Friday I do a 5-minute update to summarise what has happened in the week. We interstage the media we use to talk to each other, and we know what works for each other.
Sarah: I would be really clear on who I want my target audience to be. You have to get under their skin to understand what is the typical profile of their audience. Once you get into the head of your target buyer you can then start looking for them and start creating content that speaks to them. You need to be creating content that helps educate them through the buying journey. It’s less about the product and more about how your product can solve their problems. You should then get on LinkedIn and start connecting, finding and sharing content for those buyers.
Emily: I would suggest taking a step back and start thinking about ‘Why do I want to take my product to different countries?’, ‘Where in the world would there be an appetite for my product or service?’ and also ‘Do I have any intelligence in my network who can give me insight from a consulting perspective?’ ‘Is there competition? If there is, what does that look like?’ It’s also important to be aware of the risk in international markets and also the local Chambers of Commerce to look at whether there is any internationalisation support.
Pete: There are plenty of website resources for those who want to trade in the UK and with google translate available, I am sure in various places of the world there are equivalent websites.
Emily: It’s about thinking about what is the internalisation strategy and how does that fit with our existing people management strategy? Is our workforce going to want to move across the world? It’s about being aware of your workforce needs and desires.
Sarah: We actually have one of our employees stuck in Brazil. For me, it doesn’t matter where you are in the world, as long as you are getting your work done it will be fine. We’re interested in getting the right talent, skills and attitude and we will make it work.
Emily: Businesses will be responsive, whatever happens with Brexit, the market will have to be leaner.
Sarah: Sometimes you just have to listen to the market and see where it is. Once you have one customer in Germany, you will start to have more customers in Germany and suddenly you will start to grow your global market.
Emily: I think it’s about thinking about smaller marketplaces where you can test what you need to do. Sometimes it can happen organically, e.g. one customer in an existing country recommends you to someone in another country. Social media is fantastic for that, as it comes down to drawing on your network.
Sarah: I look at platforms like LinkedIn to identify who those people are, so I go across the roles and responsibilities I want to target.
Emily: Sometimes equality doesn’t come from treating everyone the same. Some people need to be treated slightly differently and more flexibly. From an ethics standpoint, are we happy to work in a context or a marketplace where there is vast gender-equality or a terrible gender pay-gap? It’s about listening to our workforce, and can we be a trailblazer? It’s about not kicking up the dust too much, but also not further perpetuating inequalities in a particular country. It’s about having water-tight practices and policies in place. It’s about having a culture in an environment where people can speak up.