VEDP’s 2021 delegation creates ties in Mexico
We’ve wrapped up our 2021 trade mission for Virginia to Mexico, which was all virtual this year. It was honestly fantastic– our 6th year as a company doing missions, and we’ve never been happier with trade mission results. One aspect that made it really great was the fact that our consultants were able to participate in this year’s meetings with the companies, something that was logistically impossible in years with in-person trade visits.
For those who aren’t familiar, trade missions are initiatives organized usually by governments or business associations to help companies access international export opportunities. They usually consist of a delegation of companies, who are set up with prospective partners or customers in the focus destination country. Since 2014, we’ve been supporting trade missions for the Virginia Economic Development Partnership in Mexico. Virginia normally does an intensive in-person format of 1-1 meetings during a period of 5 days for every company that participates, so we’ll do an itinerary for each company of up to 4 meetings per day.
Although Mexico City traffic somehow feels pre-pandemic again, this year, with COVID still pretty bad in North America and definitely in Mexico, we swapped out the logistical production of in-person meetings for accompanying the Virginia delegates to Zoom meetings. With a front-row seat to the companies’ meetings, we were able to observe how everyone has their own style for presenting and what different meeting participants did that worked really well.
Participants were of course able to bring in all manner of attendees from their offices, and from other offices, too. We had “Virginia” attendees from Japan, Colombia, Florida, and Vermont this year participating in the meetings. Some had mastered a more down-to-business style, hammering out solid action points. Others were great at invoking social interactions, including with the use of guitar, or the “welcome to my home” approach: “Meet Kuko, my dog.” Yet others made the most of the digital medium with immersive video presentations; we finally witnessed the potential of “Prezi”-style presentations— the un-PowerPoint, although the company appears to have done theirs in PP using macros.
Aside from seeing everyone’s virtual meetings best practices, our consultants were happy they actually got to hang out with the companies this year! Aside from making Neighbors management happy (we’re not happy unless our consultants are), we expect this time we spent forming relationships with the Virginia companies to help on the critical factor to the success of any sales intiative: follow-up. While companies may not expect to hit it off immediately with customers or partners they meet in our matchmaking, by letting our consultants join their meetings, they’ve now spent a full 10-15 meetings with someone based in the Mexico City megalopolis who they can personally feel comfortable turning to and keeping in touch with for little things and just because. The importance of growing this “relational” element in what could otherwise be a highly transactional experience cannot be understated.