The World Class New Zealand net­work is an ex­cel­lent en­abler of busi­ness con­nec­tions in new mar­kets.

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It's not what you know, but who you know that counts.

While the age-old adage may seem crude and at times un­fair, the in­creas­ingly com­pet­i­tive and ever more global na­ture of busi­ness means most or­gan­i­sa­tions will only be as im­pact­ful as their strong­est con­nec­tions.

Ac­cord­ing to Craig Don­ald­son, Global CEO of New Zealand's ex­pat net­work Kea, nowhere is this more ev­i­dent than in our ex­port mar­ket.

“It is a very Kiwi trait to take a ‘go it alone' at­ti­tude to busi­ness. We put a great deal of value on achiev­ing suc­cess off our own bat and tend not to call on our con­nec­tions for ad­vice or as­sis­tance. Un­for­tu­nately, it's this ex­act ap­proach that ham­strings us,” says Don­ald­son.

“For our most suc­cess­ful ex­porters, lev­er­ag­ing those with lo­cal knowl­edge and con­tacts is the first step in in­ves­ti­gat­ing new mar­kets. For these com­pa­nies, an in­tro­duc­tion from a shared and trusted con­nec­tion can be the dif­fer­ence be­tween a hand shake and a head shake.”

Find­ing com­mon­al­i­ties out­side of busi­ness with a mar­ket and po­ten­tially a cul­ture we don't nec­es­sar­ily un­der­stand can be a tough ask, says Don­ald­son.

“Many ex­porters sim­ply will not have the right con­tacts to call a friendly con­nec­tion in, say, Bei­jing or Sao Paolo.”

Kea be­lieves strongly in the value of these kinds of con­nec­tions and, to help New Zealand businesses and in­di­vid­u­als make more mean­ing­ful con­nec­tions, it has launched a ser­vice of­fer­ing in­tro­duc­tions to some of the coun­try's most in­flu­en­tial people.

The unique of­fer­ing con­nects lo­cal businesses with global am­bi­tions to mem­bers of the World Class New Zealand net­work – a world­wide net­work of in­ter­na­tion­ally suc­cess­ful New Zealan­ders ad­min­is­tered by Kea.

World Class New Zealand counts among its mem­bers global lead­ers in busi­ness, in­no­va­tion, academia and pol­i­tics, each of whom is renowned and re­spected in their field.

They hold se­nior po­si­tions at com­pa­nies such as Google, Face­book and Nike among oth­ers, are the driv­ing force be­hind glob­ally sig­nif­i­cant in­no­va­tions, rep­re­sent the coun­try in con­sulates and po­lit­i­cal fo­rums, and are thought lead­ers in the world's most pres­ti­gious uni­ver­si­ties and in­sti­tu­tions.

For a nom­i­nal fee, World Class New Zealand works with or­gan­i­sa­tions and in­di­vid­u­als to re­view busi­ness goals and chal­lenges be­fore iden­ti­fy­ing key con­tacts from within the net­work that are best suited to as­sist.

“Any­one who has tried to cold call a ma­jor re­tailer or im­porter to pitch their prod­uct will know that, with­out the sup­port of a trusted name, the like­li­hood of a suc­cess­ful re­sult is slim,” says Don­ald­son.

“World Class New Zealan­ders are Ki­wis with a pas­sion for our coun­try and who gen­uinely want to see other New Zealan­ders get ahead. Their sup­port and ad­vice mean there should never be such thing as a cold call, but rather a warm in­tro­duc­tion to the right people.”

Chi­nese lawyer Royal Reed is one of over 300 World Class New Zealan­ders who have had a tan­gi­ble im­pact on the re­sults of Kiwi com­pa­nies in off­shore mar­kets.

Auck­land-based Reed, di­rec­tor and founder of Pres­tige Lawyers, has geared her oper­a­tion to­wards fa­cil­i­tat­ing on­line and face to face con­nec­tions be­tween Kiwi com­pa­nies and en­trepreneurs and their busi­ness in­ter­ests in China.

For New Zealan­ders look­ing to en­gage with the lu­cra­tive Chi­nese mar­ket, says Reed, a warm in­tro­duc­tion from a shared con­nec­tion can be piv­otal.

“Busi­ness in China hinges on per­sonal re­la­tion­ships or Guanxi, so the in­tro­duc­tion we pro­vide goes a long way to­wards es­tab­lish­ing trust and re­spect.”

Reed is us­ing China's many fast grow­ing so­cial me­dia chan­nels – from the Twit­teresque Weibo and Wechat to China's YouTube equiv­a­lent, Youku – to build re­la­tion­ships be­tween Kiwi com­pa­nies and New Zealand's many fans in China.

Through in­tro­duc­tions, Reed has helped new mar­ket en­trants se­cure trade­mark op­por­tu­ni­ties, helped to con­duct due dili­gence for new em­ploy­ees in the lo­cal mar­ket, and as­sisted Kiwi ex­porters de­velop bilin­gual con­tracts.

Don­ald­son says Reed epitomises the net­work and the abil­ity of its mem­bers to help New Zealand businesses reach their po­ten­tial.

“Lev­er­ag­ing the con­nec­tions, we be­lieve, can be the cat­a­lyst to any Kiwi busi­ness achiev­ing re­mark­able things,” says Don­ald­son. “All it takes is pick­ing up the phone and leav­ing the DIY ap­proach at home.”

Royal Reed

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