Have you stopped to count how many people participate in a foreign trade operation? Don’t just
think of the importer / exporter, customs broker and freight forwarder. There are people
involved also in ports, airports, banks and even consent/approval agencies, for example, and
within each of these, there are departments holding different responsibilities and specializations.
And even though Logistics 4.0 advances over our profession, we still talk to a lot of people.
Some of them more than ten times a day, others once a week, a few when the operation is too
complex, and the ones we seek when everything goes wrong, in a way we never thought we
could bother them.
No matter how much you study, research and specialize on your own, these professionals you
have a relation with, even if you only know them by phone, they shape the foreign trade
professional you are and will be. Networking is an orchard grown not only in happy hours, it is
also happening during your work with simple attitudes that can change the day of the others
involved in it without realizing it.
Orchards are big, if we don’t help the other’s orchard, no one will help to cultivate ours. It is no
news that networking is important, so I decided to address it in a more practical way, in which
situations we can carry it out and how they pay off in foreign trade.
In the Corporate Policy
No matter if you are an apprentice, you are able to improve your networking while doing politics
within the company and I am not talking about being a bootlicker or helping someone expecting
something in exchange.
Stay away from people like that.
Whether it is a simple adjustment on the system or the idea of a new project, you will succeed
(and in less time) if your superior and other departments support you. And how can you get that
support? By helping others, in a sincere way, with your work. When a person or department
grows, the company grows and guess what? You also grow!
Eberson Terra has written a great text about Corporate Policy and is notable in the section
below how it influences networking.
“In the end, in addition to caring about your own personal image in the workplace, in you form of communication, the intention must be true and always in favor of the collective.
That is, the company. If you do politics smartly, you'll pass the right message to your managers, demonstrating emotional maturity to come up with new and greater challenges in the future.”
Not only to apply new ideas, for example in import, I need to maintain a good relationship with
the financial, accounting and controlling sectors, so that the processes occur in conformity and
without delays due to internal procedures. They help me and I help them, easy like that.
Therefore, we are on the same boat.
OR HAVE YOU ALREADY SEEN PROBLEMS TO BE SOLELY RESOLVED BECAUSE AN
IDIOT SENT AN E-MAIL ALL IN CAPITAL LETTERS?
Know who can help you
When I was still doing customs clearances, I had a process in which I made a mistake with a
tax. An error of the type would take days to fix and prevent the loading of the merchandise. As
soon as I realized it, I got the car and went to the State Department to beg for help, taking the
Import Declaration, other documents and my “poor thing” face.
But, I interrupt my drama when I see my college economics professor:
- Hi Jonas, what are you doing here? - I was impressed that he remembered me. I had not seen
him for more than two years. I was never a high scores student but I always benefited from the
classes and also liked his ones. Unlike most, I think we got along too because the two of us did
not have patience with those who did not use their brains, something that college professor
sees a lot.
- Hi teacher, I screwed up this Import Declaration on the tax bit and I’m looking for someone
here to help me.
"Come with me, tell me what happened".
I didn’t even know he was a state inspector, he solved my problem in 10 minutes.
Just a gif image can express how relieved I was.
We don’t have to dominate all the subjects when our networking counts on qualified people. In
fact, it is impossible to "know everything", having people capable and willing to help you around makes you a professional better prepared to face difficulties.
We have to make better use of face-to-face moments. Events such as workshops, fairs,
meetings, happy hours, etc. are meant for their actual purposes and also to relax, but there
must be information exchange.
To induce this habit, share with others your discoveries and mostly your professional difficulties
(this makes you a human being and there is nothing wrong with that, I swear), coming from you
kinds of subjects in which brainstorming and exchange of valuable knowledge happen, whether
it is to learn something new or to validate information acquired from another source.
And stop this stupidity of withholding information, it is likely that your valuable knowledge has
already been passed on and you end up isolating yourself by being stingy. Knowing something
before others is a very short-term advantage.
Increase professional opportunities.
I don’t even know how many times personal, work, LinkedIn, college, and MBA friends have
helped me with new job opportunities, whether it's just notifying me of a new job opportunity or even recommending my job to an employer.
Sometimes it came from people I didn’t imagine they would spend a few moments or more to
help me, even when I didn’t t need help, but I was remembered. These are the pay offs I got after helping in other orchards :)
They were also important for me not to make the wrong decisions. At one of those times when I
thought about changing the segment within the foreign trade field, I talked to a close friend who
has worked in this field for many years, I asked him what the daily work routine was like, if I
would fit, how I could grow with my current baggage.
After this talk I was sure I would hate to do what he does. Did I get sad? Of course not! He
helped me not to make a serious mistake in my career that could take me precious time ... Yes,
I agree with the idela that all knowledge is valid, but if I have the option to choose, I don’t want
to spend my time in a job that won’t bring me joy.
Working with foreign trade is to be part of a great team, use this inevitable human contact to
develop networking. It's no use taking an A grade in college and memorizing the legislation if no one around does knows who you are, or worse, don’t want you around.
If you fight for it you will achieve? You kind of do, though, excuse me the cliché, by yourself you
won’t go very far.
And stop thinking that "far" means high salary and pompous job titles in English, we are much more than that.
Written by Jonas Vieira