4 Ways to Use LinkedIn to Connect to International Clients

For most small business owners, establishing an international presence is an important rite of passage.

After all, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration, more than 96 percent of the world’s consumers live outside of the U.S. That’s a huge customer base just waiting to be accessed. Nevertheless, it’s hard to reach those valuable international customers — especially for small businesses with limited time and resources.

The fact is that you cannot feasibly chase down every attractive market all over the world. That’s where the power of LinkedIn comes in. LinkedIn has grown from being a simple online repository for your résumé and contacts to a powerful tool for professionals to connect and interact, regardless of national borders.

Connect With International Customers Via LinkedIn

LinkedIn LinkedIn is a fantastic tool. Not only does it allow you to stay connected with colleagues as they scatter across the globe, but the content that users post also creates searchable keywords, making it easier for recruiters, vendors, potential partners, and customers to find users’ accounts.

On top of that, LinkedIn has social tools, such as group discussions, personal posts, and timeline updates, which help spur conversations and create exposure for users and their businesses. And LinkedIn’s data scientists help connect users to relevant people and groups through a little thing called Internet magic.

When it comes to international business, the online platform removes typical obstacles, such as language and cultural barriers, and delivers an environment that fosters legitimate business relationships. It’s a far better option than simply buying lists of potential customers because you’re better able to evaluate the quality of a specific client or partner at a fraction of the cost.

So how can you tap into the power of LinkedIn to connect with international clients? Here are four ways to build your international connections:

1. Tailor your profile to your markets. If you’re interested in connecting with international business owners or resellers, make sure your profile suggests that you’re willing to work cross-culturally. 

For example, I make sure my LinkedIn profile not only promotes my company and our products, but also helps build my professional connections. I do this through strategic messaging. A quick glance at my profile will show a balance between product promotion and my career history. I also include keywords such as “worldwide” and “global” to ensure that my connections know that I work with both international and domestic clients.

2. Participate in group discussions. Join groups that are relevant to both your market and your interests. There are groups for everything — broken down by metro area, interests, or even professional field. However, once you’ve joined a group, make sure you’re actively engaging and connecting with members. 

Avoid simple agreement statements (e.g., “great perspective”). Instead, offer significant and relevant knowledge with examples or additional insight. You can also share valuable links. The end goal is to establish yourself as a thought leader and a contributing member in these groups, so skip the sales pitch. Sharing true knowledge will yield more positive results in the long run.

3. Reach out to fellow group members directly. If you’ve started interacting with a specific LinkedIn member via groups and feel like there’s a real networking opportunity, try reaching out. The worst that can happen is that he’ll say he’s not interested. Plus, this is the easiest and most direct way to network with people who could be potential international business partners.

4. Write content, and share it via your profile and group discussions. A great way to garner attention on LinkedIn is to write insightful, shareable content. Once you have a following, this content will spur discussions and generate exposure for you and your company. However, if you’re targeting international customers and partners, make sure that you write from a global perspective. For instance, always use examples that can be understood regardless of cultural background.

LinkedIn makes connecting to professionals around the globe much easier and much less intimidating. The key is to maintain continuous and consistent efforts with your LinkedIn marketing. Treat the contacts you establish like gold, and make engaging with them on a regular basis part of your business routine.

I’ve been surprised by how simply being open and making time for people has created significant opportunities for my company all over the world — and that’s when I saw the true power of LinkedIn in building international connections.

About the Author

Tim Maliyil is the CEO and data security architect for AlertBoot. AlertBoot protects customers from data breaches that damage their credibility, reputation, and business. The company’s managed full-disk encryption, email encryption services, and mobile security services deploy within minutes to customers’ PCs, smartphones, and tablets, providing tremendous insight, visibility, and control.