If you’re looking for business leads and trade partners in foreign countries, start with trade lead directories. Similar to a Yellow Pages book for the world, business directories can offer much more information and are often available on the Internet. Some trade lead directories require a subscription in order to access their database; others offer free information. When looking for trade lead directories that will be effective for your business:
- Find out what the costs are. Some web-based trade lead directories offer free access, but most directories that offer complete company information charge a monthly subscription fee.
- Know what information you need. Some trade lead directories are simply a list of companies broken down by industry categories. Others offer much more detailed information including key decision making personnel, financials and open RFPs.
- Get focused. If you’re looking for exporters of products in China, purchasing a subscription to trade lead directories for the entire world is probably overkill. Try to find focused trade lead directories for the information you need.
General business directoriesIf you're trying to target businesses in the U.S. that fit certain criteria, you can pull the information from the most widely respected business directories of domestic information. They allow you to search by criteria such as company size, financials, executives, news and trademarks. Subscription-based business directories allow you to use them in ongoing efforts to connect to trade leads.
Find international buyers and sellersSmall business owners often find it a challenge to connect with international buyers and sellers halfway around the world. But online import/export trade lead directories ease the burden of traveling by connecting businesses, regardless of their respective geography.
U.S. Government has a website that helps U.S. import and export companies find new international buyers and sellers in worldwide markets.
Domestic business trade lead directoriesOutsourcing and importing/exporting to foreign countries means that you have to deal with transit time and communication barriers, which isn't always ideal for small businesses. Focusing on trade leads in the U.S. and Canada may save you some of the headaches associated with using foreign trade partners.
Chambers of commerce serve as business trade lead directoriesMuch like you would use your local chamber of commerce to build trade leads and prospect lists, there are international chambers of commerce that can provide business trade leads and resources.
- Language barriers often prevent small U.S. companies from doing business or trade or with international buyers and sellers. If this is an obstacle to your small business, consider hiring a consultant who specializes in international business dealings to be your middleman.
- Find out how business trade lead directories vet listed companies for fraudulent activities, outstanding lawsuits and other red flags before you commit to using the service.