While at a recent Seed Association meeting I was approached by a young lady who introduced herself after I gave a presentation. She said she is new to her role in export logistics and asked if I had any advice I could share with her as she navigates through these new challenges. It was tricky to provide her a single and specific answer to her question however the first thing that came to mind, was "Find Your Allies."
We've all been at a point in our job where we don't understand a certain task, know how to answer a customers question, or solve a particular problem. You will run into delays, make an error on documentation or get confused by specific verbiage. Solving these issues timely and accurately is very important for you, your company and your customers.
Allies are your support system. They may be a colleague but often are individuals outside of your organization who you can network with or call when you have questions. Allies are more typically individuals within industry associations, regulatory agency staff, maybe a counterpart at another company or a service provider.
How do you find these allies?
Put yourself out there. Attend a conference, convention, or webinar and introduce yourself to people, either in-person or even virtually. If you're at the same event, you likely have something in common.
Befriend your regulatory officials, they are often the best collaborator as they can answer some of your toughest questions. Don’t be intimidated by them, they are just as human as you are and generally, always willing to provide support.
Contact a service provider and ask about what they do and how they do it. As a service provider you are their customer and they, by nature, typically enjoy helping people when they genuinely need assistance.
Join an industry association. There you'll will find others with similar interests and comparable issues. Associations often have staff who focus their work solely on areas you may struggle with; logistics, technical or regulatory issues, and policy concerns. If they can't assist you they can definitely find someone who will.
When I've conducted training either as a Department Manager or as a Consultant I tell individuals they can't ask a question someone else hasn't already asked or make a mistake someone hasn't already made. Don't recreate the wheel always trying to do or learn things on your own but instead build up your team of allies you can count on when needed.
Don't forget, an ally relationship is not one-way. Be sure to make yourself available to others when you're asked a question and always extend the offer to help if they need assistance in the future.
For Further information on developing your team of allies contact AgCultured Consulting.