|February 2003; Vol. 12 Issue 2|
|The Resource for Small and Emerging Businesses|
www.kcsmallbiz.com • www.thebizstream.com
Confining your Internet searches to a few major sites quickly puts relevant information at your fingertips.
By Brian Gauler
The Internet is a tremendous resource, but there is so much available you may not know where to start your quest for information about international business.
One way to focus your searches is to concentrate on a few major sites that provide links to the specific information you need. An easy way to find those major sites is to subscribe to a free bi-weekly service from the Federation of International Trade Associations (FITA) called Really Useful Sites. John McDonnell, the creator, does the search work and you can simply read his site reviews and visit the ones that are relevant to you.
When you use this approach, you are following the one percenter method. That is, rather than starting with the 100 percent of information that is available on the Internet, you focus on specific sites that allow you to confine your searches to the information most appropriate to you (about 10% of the total available online). From that 10 percent, you can cull the information down to the 10 percent that fits your specific needs, essentially 1 percent of all the information that is available.
It s not difficult to become a one percenter for international trade Internet resources. Simply visit FITA s international trade portal www.fita.org/index.html and subscribe. Every other week you will receive a free excellent review of useful Web sites focused on international trade. To give you an idea of how extensive the online international trade resources are, FITA s web portal has a link library of more than 4,000 sites!
Some of the sites reviewed in the last few issues are categorized by topic below.
International Culture Issues
Developing a greater understanding of how people from other countries think and do business isn't just for global business travelers. With so many international business people visiting the States, information about cultural norms and differences can be essential for preparing your staff to receive international guests.
• Kiss, Bow or Shake Hands (www.getcustoms.com/omnibus.html ) offers important information on how to do business in 60 countries, including tips on gift giving, a guide to making toasts, and guidelines on greetings.
• Window on the World ( www.windowontheworldinc.com/countryprofile/index.html) provides more comprehensive information than most business etiquette sites.
• Business Etiquette (hbcollege.com/management/students/bus etiquette.htm#5) focuses on how to behave in business situations.
• Bag-Lady (www.the-bag-lady.co.uk) uses a format that provides specific country and type of information (social or business profile, demographics, etc.) desired.
These Web sites are particularly helpful for beginning your information search. Since listing every country would be exhausting, here are a few select countries or regions that may be relevant for your business.
• Internet Resources for Latin America ( lib.nmsu.edu/subject/bord/laguia) was created by a librarian at New Mexico State University. It provides well-researched noncommercial information with links, lists, databases and articles.
• Sources for Asia-Pacific Research (asia-pacific.com/links.htm) contains hundreds of content-rich sites about business in the Far East.
• Strategis (strategis.ic.gc.ca) serves as a gateway to the Canadian market.
• Canadian Embassy in Washington Business Resources ( www.candianembassy.org/referenceibusiness-e.asp) details 32,000 Canadian companies.
• Central and Eastern Europe (www.mac.doc.gov/ceebic) The 15 countries in this region provide special opportunities for business, and this U.S. Department of Commerce site provides a wealth of detail.
• China (www.chinagate.com.cn/english) The China market is rapidly becoming a priority market for many U.S. manufacturers, for both exports or imports of sourced products.
Some examples of the many key export topics that can be researched on the Internet include:
• Tools of the Trade (fita.org/webcasts.html ) is a new (as of August 2002) feature at the FITA Web site. It is an interactive broadcast e-seminar with 16 free videos.
• Industry Research Desk (www.virtualpet.com/industry ) is a guide to using the Internet for business research.
• Postal Rates (postalrates.info ) provides information about postal rates worldwide as well as links to all sorts of other useful sites.
• All About Carnets ( www.uscib.org/index.asp?documentlD=1843) Many international marketing managers (I was one!) learn about carnets the hard way after they have paid import duties for samples that could have been avoided.
Business people who use the Internet to assist their global marketing efforts have a bookmark section that is continually growing. But once you become a one percenter, you can quickly target the best information for your international business needs.
Brian Gauler is director of business development at Environmental Dynamics Inc., in Columbia, Mo. He can be reached at (573) 474-9456 or by e-mailing Brian.Gauler@wastewater.com