When I went to Beijing just over a year ago, I was fortunate to have an invitation that included a driver and interpreter. Both helped me immensely in navigating the busy city to accomplish my trip goals.

Having a skilled guide on hand to help me through a foreign country made the difference between an efficient, successful series of meetings and days of bumbling along wasting lots of time and money. I simply wouldn't have ventured on the trip without this type of guidance. The same holds true for investing in foreign companies -- venturing into international stocks requires good guidance and resources to improve your chances of success.

Who's guiding you?
So it's a good question to ask -- who can lead you to solid international stocks with great growth prospects? On the flip side, who can help you avoid the corruption and frauds rampant in some regions?

The quality of guidance in international investing makes a big difference. For starters, investors are best served by resources that look to the future, not the past. This may seem elementary, but consider how much of the mass media simply regurgitates tired stories on the most popular U.S. stocks.

You know, the talking heads that highlight Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) after it shoots up 20% on its strong third-quarter results or pooh-pooh Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) after the company announced that torcetrapib was being pulled from trials.

Yesterday's rehash is not a useful resource for navigating international waters -- people don't need a guide to tell them where they've been; they want one to tell them where to go. That means looking beyond the typical outlets for good information about foreign trends and companies.

Your international future
For instance, while in Beijing, I made it a point to read the local business papers in addition to international resources such as Financial Times to get a feel for what was happening there from a Chinese perspective -- something you can't get from U.S.-based media. I was amazed to see the number of corporations announcing the opening of R&D complexes. Companies such as Novell (NASDAQ:NOVL), DuPont (NYSE:DD), and even Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) were busy pumping millions of dollars into the area to open or expand research centers and capture local talent coming from Chinese universities.

The key insight gleaned here -- China's future is not only about cheap labor, but a new wave of Chinese technical talent coming into the local economy.

But how investors profit from this trend is not necessarily straightforward. For instance, local papers such as China Daily cover in detail how changes in Chinese government restrictions on foreign ownership or limitations placed on domestic companies significantly change the business landscape. Before investing in locals like a Baidu.com (NASDAQ:BIDU) or Sina (NASDAQ:SINA), investors would be wise to follow how business gets done in China and what impact it has on investments.

Improve your guidance
Resources such as local media, trade journals, business groups, and associations in foreign countries can hold a wealth of information not widely known in the United States. Tapping into the "inside knowledge" of foreign economies can help guide investors to better understand risks and rewards associated with particular foreign investments and even spot incredible values that many others have missed.

If you already own international stocks or are looking to find some, one invaluable guide that includes a litany of resources comes from Motley Fool Global Gains. Led by Fool senior analyst Bill Mann, the Global Gains team has built an extensive database of online media sites and publications to help investors understand not only the businesses they recommend for purchase, but also the economies in which they operate. You can click here to start a 30-day trial of the service free with no obligations. Be sure to check out the Resources tab for links to the rest of the world.

Fool contributor Dave Mock enjoyed the local fare in Beijing, including coagulated duck's blood. He owns no shares of companies mentioned here. The longtime Fool is also the author of The Qualcomm Equation. Sina and Dell are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. Baidu is a Rule Breakers pick. Microsoft, Pfizer, and Dell are Inside Value choices. The Motley Fool has a jetsetting disclosure policy.