Going Global 101: What Does It Mean to “Go Global”?

Part 1 in our Going Global Series

Last Updated: November 21, 2019 2:30AM

This is the first in a 10-part blog series on “Going Global.” Over the next 10 weeks, we’ll offer tips and tricks gleaned from 20 years in the business. First up: what does it really mean to “go global”? by Sophia Eakins

By now, “going global” is a buzzword you have no doubt heard. The idea of globalization —of enacting business practices that allow you to connect more effectively with customers and partners around the world— has been on our collective radar for years.

In the past, aspirational companies viewed globalization as a tool to access one or more international markets. But over the years, the true meaning of “going global” has changed. Today, “going global” has transformed from its humble beginnings as a mere recommendation. Now, it has become an absolute necessity for continued growth and success.

The Transforming, Tech-Driven Marketplace

What spurred the need for businesses to think proactively about international expansion and engagement? Simply put: new technology. Rapid technological enhancements and innovations have widened professional and social networks at an unprecedented rate without boundaries. As a result, accessing global audiences becomes easier with each passing year. But it also makes avoiding global audiences much harder.

Let’s take a look at the numbers: According to McKinsey, “border data flows are increasing at rates approaching 50 times those of last decade. Almost a billion social-networking users have at least one foreign connection, while 2.5 billion people have email accounts, and 200 billion emails are exchanged every day. About 250 million people are currently living outside of their home country, and more than 350 million people are cross-border e-commerce shoppers.”

Let’s unpack these numbers a bit. Essentially, exponential numbers of people around the world are connecting to the Internet. This, in turn, connects them with other people, often in a foreign country. Similarly, increased connectivity enables disparate global customers to connect to businesses and purchase their products and services. Individuals and businesses alike publish digital and social media content, which local audiences across oceans and borders can access instantly via the touchscreens in their hands. And thus, with the click of a button, the content producer has landed squarely in on the global stage.

A Leading Role on the Global Stage

Content creators, be forewarned: the “global” stage on which you have landed is as vast and as populous as its name implies. In simply occupying a space on the stage, can we say that we have “gone global” as we define it in 2019? Some say yes and posit that a globalized business is any organization that interacts–in any capacity–with consumers in the global marketplace. Others believe the definition of globalization has evolved with the world around it and requires purposeful interaction. Consequently: how can companies ensure they play a leading role on the international stage?

Separating the companies that have stumbled and those that have found success when “going global” can come down to one word: intentionality. In short: when considering global expansion, successful companies must take the intentional step of understanding the cultural nuances inherent in connecting with a diverse, multilingual international market. That means internalizing three key skill sets: a global mindset, global entrepreneurship, and global citizenship.

A Global Mindset

First, going global today means adopting a global mindset. Before you can address an international audience, you need to adjust your strategy accordingly. How will you approach marketing and communication in your new target market? Are you aware of all the local language and cultural differences at play?

Global Entrepreneurship

Next, use your global mindset to be globally savvy in your endeavors. Brainstorm new ways you can create value for your global audience as well as how you can glean value from them. Consider yourself a global entrepreneur, and exercise creativity in creating new opportunities and benefits for your brand—and your new multinational customers.

Global Citizenship

Finally—and perhaps most importantly—go global with intentionality by becoming a true global citizen. “Global citizenship” is an increasingly popular buzzword in our everyday vernacular. As doors continue to open and bridges connecting people around the world continue to be built, we meet a new responsibility to engage mindfully and respectfully with unfamiliar cultures and societies. By recognizing the diversity, complexity, and potential challenges associated with expansion into new multicultural, multilingual markets, companies can demonstrate their ambition to be truly active, intentional citizens of the global marketplace.

So, in 2019, how do you “go global” intentionally? How will you interact with new international markets to drive awareness and affect resonance? Like it or not, every modern business needs to consider these questions when contemplating international growth.

The process of going global can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to. At Lionbridge, we’ve made other companies’ global business our business for more than 20 years. In this 10-part series, we’ll share our experience on “going global”: what it means, how to do it, and when to ask for help.

Next up in our series? “So You Have a Website. Are You a Global Company?” Until then, don’t hesitate to reach out if you’re ready to expand internationally.

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