“The Enterprise Canada Network could be described as the eHarmony for exporting businesses,” says Philip Turi, National Director, Global Business Services at Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME). “And like any online matchmaking site, you’ll attract more attention and the kind of partnerships you’re looking for if you pay careful attention to crafting your online profile.”
The Enterprise Canada Network (ECN) was created by CME in partnership with Export Development Canada (EDC) as a comprehensive matching platform that connects Canadian firms to foreign customers, as well as qualified international business and technology partners. The initiative represents a collaboration of more than 600 partner organizations in more than 50 countries, including foreign chambers of commerce, innovation centres and universities.
“From our surveys, we know that finding new international business partners has been consistently identified as one of our members’ greatest challenges, second only to managing exchange-rate risk,” says Turi. Through the ECN, Canadians can tap into more than 21,000 opportunities to exchange skills, services or technologies with partners around the globe.
Since ECN’s launch in the fall of 2014, over 1,100 companies have joined by registering on the site, more than 65 business connections have been made and over 73 companies have completed Opportunity Profiles to proactively seek new international partners.
Turi notes that Canadian companies can increase their chances for a successful match by ensuring their online ECN profile creates a clear, concise and positive impression, with pertinent information clearly defined in the most appropriate template fields.
When a company registers on ECN, information about their company, as well as their current and future exporting strategy, is requested. This information is not made public, but instead is used by the ECN team to proactively identify potential opportunities that might be of interest to the company.
Through ECN, companies also have the ability to submit their own Opportunity Profile for publication on the network. This allows companies to promote their product or service, as well as seek products or services they are in need of. All of the Opportunity Profiles are non-identifying, to protect the poster from unwanted solicitation and from disclosing competitive information.
“A well written Opportunity Profile certainly attracts greater interest, but people also consider a well-crafted profile to be a reflection of the quality of your work in general,” says Nancy MacKneson, National Operations Manager with CME. “If you take the care to create a good profile, that attention to detail signifies your level of professionalism to potential customers.”
MacKneson adds that partners who review the published Opportunity Profiles to find a match usually first scan the introductory sections of profile; if those details look promising, they will open the full profile to read the rest. It’s therefore important to ensure the right information is placed in the optimum areas of the profile template to take advantage of this process.
Download a tip sheet to craft your ECN profile
To help make it easier, CME has created a downloadable tip sheet that gives a broad overview of the most important tips to follow. While filling out the Opportunity Profile template, there are also handy “help” buttons that further explain requirements.
“The time it takes to make a strong Opportunity Profile—about half an hour—is well worth the effort,” says MacKneson. “This is an investment in your business, and it will save you time in the long run and help you to attract the most appropriate matches more quickly.”
For more information or to register with the ECN, visit www.enterprisecanadanetwork.ca.