How to Identify International Opportunities

Utilize online resources to capture new international opportunities


Before entering international markets, many small business owners focus primarily on their domestic market.  Usually, initial international marketing begins with unsolicited inquiries from foreign customers online via email or a social platform such as a website, blog or Facebook account.  In this article, you will learn how to identify international opportunities by utilizing online resources and other methods.

Step 1:  Establishing a new avenue of growth:  international 

When a company receives an inquiry or order from abroad, at first it may fill it reluctantly, but it gradually learns the benefit of expanding overseas.  Typically, it is never a deliberate strategy to go global.  Rather, a business has saturated a domestic market and is looking for new avenues of growth. They become interested in selling the same things the same way everywhere.  Once this occurs, the business owner has to decide the degree of international marketing involvement and commitment he or she is prepared to make.  They must address a couple of simple questions:  Do we have the human capacity to make international expansion happen?  Will our products or services be in demand in another country?  Can we deliver on our promise?  Do we know what we are doing?  How will we get paid?  If you can answer yes to these questions, you are ready to expand internationally!


Whether a business is marketing in several countries or entering a foreign market for the first time, the single most important factor to consider is planning.  For tech-savvy business owners, the Internet is the best place to get started.

To show the world you are serious about expanding across borders and to help identify international opportunities, join and actively participate in a variety of social media and networking platforms.

 LinkedIn ( is excellent for making professional global connections, getting answers to international trade-related issues and landing new international business opportunities.  Try a few of its sub-groups:  Global Sourcing, Global Private Equity and Venture Capital, Go Global Internationalization Forum, International Business and International Export Import.

Explore some of the new social media platforms, messenger apps, and even games, such as Vine, Pokemon Go, Wanelo and WhatsApp.  Even though social media is quite the tumultuous playing field, you never know how new resources can boost your global business power or make your business more efficient.  All of them, including Facebook, provide learning opportunities for you to improve your brand messaging. 

Create a blog ( or, website (, or or Facebook account (  Beef up your online communications with an ongoing, consistent effort.  Use effective global marketing — sharing stories related to your business — to get noticed or to spot an overseas opportunity.  When an international customer bites or a supplier responds to one of your communications, test out your price, learn what his or her interests are, see what reaction you get and then negotiate from there.

Next, ask local customers for international referrals.  If you have done a good job, they will be more than happy to refer you to someone else, and that person might be located in another country.  Case in point:  Years ago I asked a multinational customer of confectionery products who they thought might be interested in our line of candy items in other parts of the world.  Within a week, my customer introduced me to two of their candy wholesalers located in Japan and Ireland.    

Lastly, another often overlooked low cost way to identify international opportunities is to exhibit at a domestic trade show in your industry that offers an "International Buyer" exhibit area. For example, the International Home & Housewares Show ( in Chicago allows you to tap into its international buyer audience and a number of global member benefits.

These actions and connections help identify new global market opportunities, contribute to breaking into new markets and increase one's knowledge base on a global scale.

Photo Credit: cliff1066