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The World Class New Zealand network is an excellent enabler of business connections in new markets. 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 off-shore 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 Twitter-esque 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.”

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