Get set. Connect. Go global. ScotExport conference is your chance to put your business on the world map.

Get set. Connect. Go global. ScotExport conference is your chance to put your business on the world map.

A new event taking place in Glasgow in October will give businesses the chance to take their first steps on the journey towards trading internationally, while also providing a boost for those already exporting.

Making connections is a key factor when it comes to international trade. Whether it’s customers, distributors, or agents, finding the right business partners is crucial to making a success of exporting.

Connecting to the right people is at the heart of the ScotExport 2017 conference, which will take place at the Hilton Doubletree Hotel in Glasgow on Tuesday 31 October. The event is being organised by Scottish Enterprise (SE), Highlands & Islands Enterprise (HIE) and Scottish Development International (SDI), the overseas arm of Scotland’s economic development agencies.

What’s most exciting about the ScotExport event is the practical advice that’s on offer – SDI reports that there are more than 1,000 live exporting opportunities worldwide right now. These are companies that want to buy goods and services and so present a chance for Scottish businesses to win a share of the international trade market straight away.

Exports are already a key part of the Scottish economy. In 2015, Scotland’s businesses sold goods and services worth £28.7bn overseas, up 3.6% on the previous 12 months.

Customers in the European Union bought £12.3bn of services and products from Scotland, with the Netherlands – which acts as a distribution hub and import centre for much of the continent – soaking up £2.3bn, followed by France and Germany taking around £1.8bn each. The United States was Scotland’s biggest individual export market, buying £4.6bn of our nation’s wares, or nearly 16% of the total.

Together, Scotland’s five largest export markets account for 41% of exports, illustrating the opportunities that lie ahead to diversify international trade, sending whisky and widgets, salmon and services, to a broader range of countries.

Food and drink accounted for just under 17% of all exports in 2015, tipping the scales at £4.8bn. Whisky continues to dominate the sector, accounting for £3.8bn or 80% of sales.

A series of seminars and interactive roundtable discussions at the ScotExport event will give would-be exporters the chance to hear from more-experienced companies and to pose questions.

Roundtable discussions will give businesses the chance to pose the questions they might not have had time to ask during the main conference sessions or to go into more depth on the hot issues of the day. A range of hosts and formats will be used to stoke conversations and get discussions going.

Interactive sessions will be a key part of the delegate hub, where existing and would-be exporters will come together with experts to seek advice and share stories. It’s going to be a great place to make the connections that are needed to begin or develop an export journey and form the relationships with potential business partners that could help to generate success in overseas markets.

As well as the group sessions, one-to-one appointments can also be booked to help businesses that have very specific or sensitive questions. Markets specialists will be available to offer confidential advice and advisers will be on hand to offer advice on e-commerce, finance, legal matters and opportunities in key countries.

Back in the main conference, there will be plenty of help when it comes to creating an export plan, researching new markets or handling all those niggling questions about logistics, foreign languages, exchange rates and local customs or practices.

Making the most of Scotland’s global connections is an important step in growing our nation’s exports. As well as having staff in 14 offices in the UK, SDI also has market specialists in 29 overseas locations, providing boots on the ground to help businesses begin or grow their exports.

More than 2,500 companies each year benefit from the export advice on offer from Scotland’s economic development agencies and their wider network of partners. If a Scottish business has a question about international trade then there are plenty of experts out there to provide an answer – and ScotExport 2017 is exactly the right place to meet them.

To find out more about ScotExport 2017 and to book your free place, visit www.export.scot