In New Zealand we have a local industry body called CBAFF (Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Federation), and I am sure you are aware of your own countries’ local bodies.
Much of the time you don’t necessarily see what these industry bodies do for you. Sure, you get regular updates about things, which you may glance at about an upcoming change that you know you need to look into, courses you want to send staff to one day, perhaps an invite to a networking event and always an AGM invite.
In the background these organisations work with various government departments, software suppliers, airlines, airports, wharves and shipping companies fighting for the rights, and presenting the viewpoint of their members. It is when an industry change happens or a crisis like covid-19 hits that you can truly appreciate all that these hard-working teams do.
My experience with New Zealand’s local industry body, CBAFF, is that the service they have provided to their members has been outstanding. Updates of current situations are sent direct to my inbox regularly. CBAFF are doing a fabulous job of collating, reviewing and distributing the relevant information quickly, leaving their members free to continue working rather than themselves having to read through numerous perhaps irrelevant updates or search for information from various sources. Plus being an established and well-respected organisation, they already have the right contacts with the right people in the right places and the right people reach out to them.
So, if you have a local industry body, how do you get the most value?
*Join – if you don’t already belong, join. If you don’t belong you are missing out on information, networking opportunities and the chance to have your say.
*Participate – industry events happen throughout the year, keep an eye our for them and head along. You will learn more and have a chance to discuss current industry events, with people who are interested in these things. I can’t be the only one who when at home gets the ‘OMG are you seriously talking about boxes on a boat’ stare, and I’m pretty sure you automatically corrected that sentence to ‘they are containers and it is not a boat it’s a ship’. Plus, you never know who you will meet.
*Go to the AGM – I’ve been to these, and I know a lot of you don’t go. Seriously they are not painful. The federation tries to keep them short and to the point. It is generally only an hour or so of your time, and there may even be a networking opportunity afterwards.
*Attend the conferences – I’ve been to many of these over the years in Australia and NZ. NZ’s is a well-run annual 2-day event where you have the opportunity to hear from some amazing and relevant speakers. Icebreakers are included in the sessions and the day is broken up with breaks where you can network, make calls back to the office or just take a breather. You should try and make time for the extracurricular activities; these are designed to give you the chance to further network and have some fun.
* Communicate – While these guys are good, they don’t advertise themselves as having psychic powers, you need to tell them what you want. Having said that, the organisations need to represent the community as a whole and just because I think one thing is a great idea, doesn’t mean anyone else does.
* Support them –Attend the AGM, go to the conferences, attend the workshops, send them updates that you think relevant, respond to their surveys post events where they ask you what more they can do to help you. The more they know about what you want they more they can do for you.
If you are sitting on the fence about joining your local industry body, think of it this way - this is your industry body, they are doing their best to represent you. Governments ask their feedback. They have audiences and established contacts with officials at a level that as individuals we would be hard pushed to reach. Can you really afford not to belong?