Saturday, January 27, 2007

International Connections

This is an appropriate story to go along with the quickly approaching International Networking Week.

Last weekend Steve and I went out for dinner with Scott and Kathy Prephan. Scott is an unassuming, developer who is a known as a highly creditable business person in these parts. He is small of stature and has quite the boyish look, plus he looks like he is always about ready to pull the next prank (and probably is!)

Several years ago he met a Chinese man in Cleveland named Lee. Lee and Scott formed an international trade group as a result of that meeting. Ever since they met, Lee has been trying to get Scott to travel to China to see if Scott could help with the burgeoning development over there.

Finally during December Scott made the trip. Here's where the networking part comes in.

Lee's father is the former mayor of the city (I can't remember the name) they visited. This is a second tier city, the size of South Carolina. Yes, that is a city the size of one of our states. I think Scott said the population is 4.5 million. What Scott found out is that relationships and connections are EVERYTHING in China. The mayor is as important there as our president is here and nothing gets done without the mayor's nod. Because Scott was the guest of the former mayor (Lee is his son), Scott's importance was elevated way beyond his belief. He said that at one place he arrived, his name was on the marquee in lights.

There is so much more to this story, but what is important is that Scott had people asking him to partner with them at every stop. He left the country with the plan to help build a 40,000+ seat stadium. My immediate question to Scott was, "Do you know how to build a stadium?" Scott grinned at me and said, "No, not all of it, but I'm pulling a team together that can do it."

There are so many global opportunities, but without strong relationships both here and abroad, the prospects stay just that. It's the team effort that will make it all happen.

How have you reached across a border to make something happen?

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