Expanding Beyond Our Shores: A Double-Barrelled Trade Mission

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Pictured (l-r): Susan Fitzgerald (Fit’s Mobile Welding), Paula Sheppard (NLOWE), Sydney Ryan (Telelink), Christina Adams (Antenna Social Media and Design), Deborah Youden (NLOWE), and Paul Fitzgerald (Ftiz’s Mobile Welding).

First time event. First time for Atlanta. And a first for the mother-and-son team of Fitz’s Mobile Welding, Susan and Paul Fitzgerald. “The trade mission was our first mission,” said Susan. “We found it to be a very valuable educational experience. We had successful business-to-business meetings. These meetings provided our company with positive opportunities for business development.” The Fitzgeralds have gone home to build on these connections. For them, the area is active with construction and ripe with business opportunities.

Christina Adams of Antenna Social Media and Design also went to Atlanta. “I’ve been able to build great relationships with potential clients and partners on a global scale, thanks to the support of NLOWE, Department of Business, Tourism, Culture and Rural Development (BTCRD) and the Government of Canada’s Business Women in International Trade. People buy from people they like and trust, and through attending events and trade missions as a WEConnect certified business, my personal network has grown way beyond Newfoundland and Labrador.”

Atlanta hosted the first ever Women in Business North America Summit, June 15–17, 2016. It was a partnership with Global Affairs Canada Business Women in International Trade (BWIT) program, US Small Business Administration, ProMexico, local partners in Atlanta, and the Consulate General of Canada (Atlanta). BTCRD and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) also supported the NL businesses. The trilateral event included panel discussions, business meetings, and networking receptions. It was too good an opportunity to pass up for three companies from the province.

Beside Susan and Paul Fitzgerald and Christina Adams, Sydney Ryan of Telelink travelled with the NLOWE delegation. After the Atlanta trade mission, Sydney went to the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) National Conference and Business Fair in Orlando, Florida (June 19–23, 2016). She had participated in this event previously and returned to follow up and build more opportunities: “After Atlanta, it was the perfect time to do more business in the region.”

The WBENC conference in Orlando opened with a meet and mingle for the Canadian delegation. This was followed by events such as WEConnect International Day, Women Business Enterprise (WBE) Canada Breakfast with Brands, and WBENC Conference and Business Fair.

For any trade mission, getting ready involves much more than the logistics of getting there. While that’s important, Christina, who now has presented at a couple of international events, says, “The key is to go with a plan. The first time I went on a trade mission it was all about exploring possibilities and getting the lay of the land. Each time I’ve returned, I’ve deepened relationships and added to my marketing strategy. I’ve been a presenter at these events and have developed social media.”

Susan of Fitz’s Mobile Welding added this piece of advice, “I would definitely recommend attending a trade mission to other business owners. As well, I would encourage business owners to scout out the area you are travelling to and try to capitalize on the area you are visiting. Set up your own business-to-business meetings while in the area. There is so much potential out there.”

If you are interested in expanding beyond our shores and exploring new markets through an NLOWE trade mission, contact NLOWE’s export consultant, Deborah Youden, at 709.754.4272 or dyouden@nlowe.org.

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