by Wanda Barquin
Until recently, I had written about exporting to Latin America and Africa. Since I had just started focusing on exporting to the Asia-Pacific region, I had to re-assess what to blog about. First, I set a few rules of engagement. Second, I inventoried my skills. Third, I listed my interests.
#BehindTheScenes, I established four rules for blogging:
- Write about things that are meaningful to me or useful to others;
- Develop own writing style, be authentic;
- Post at least once a month, even if entries are short; and
- Focus on exporting, but explore other topics.
I then took stock of my skills using map minding techniques. This self-reflective exercise resulted in unlocking my “value proposition,” clarified my core beliefs and reminded me of my purpose. My first few LinkedIn blogs focused on practical issues and ethical values. I had read Ghandi’s “Seven Dangers to Human Virtues” a long time ago and he summarized some important corollaries such as “knowledge without character, business without ethics, science without humanity.”
Knowledge without character seems meaningless to me.
His wise words inspired me and helped form the fabric of my leadership.
The list of my abilities included some skills transferable to the Asia-Pacific region. I had negotiated trade agreements at the outset of my government career and had written about their benefits a couple of years ago. I updated an old article on how to take advantage of the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) and shared it on LinkedIn.
Having gained experience with foreign government tender processes in other continents, I quickly realized that my new region offered interesting infrastructure business possibilities. While not for the faint of heart, the Philippines and Indonesiahave some good prospects for companies with competitive architectural, engineering and building products and services. As international businesspeople, we are all keenly aware that learning about different idiosyncracies, and adapting to unfamiliar circumstances, are a “must” to operating globally. Great material for blogging!
Working with our private sector associates is one of the most rewarding parts of my job. These “multipliers” range from trade associations, international banks, universities, think tanks, U.S. transportation and logistics companies, to chambers of commerce (AmChams) overseas. Teaming up with foreign partners establishes a stronger “U.S. brand presence” overseas and develops more trusting business relationships. These strategic partnerships promote exports on six continents and help connect buyers and sellers worldwide.
I was enthused by the prospect of getting to know some of the players at the AmCham in Japan (ACCJ). While visiting Tokyo recently, I met Ethan Schwalbe, a brilliant Georgetown University, my alma mater, alum, who manages the Office of External Affairs of this prestigious organization. The ACCJ has three offices and represents over 2,700 members from more than 1,000 companies. I blogged about that trip a few weeks ago.
In the case of Singapore, its AmCham (ACCS) has a membership of only 750 U.S. companies; however, most of them have regional oversight and those firms are actively recruiting staff for their operations.* Another famous AmCham, and one of the oldest in the world, is China’s (ACCC), with more than 1,000 members. The latest trade figures indicate that U.S. exports to China have increased by more than 75 percent since 2009, reaching a record USD $122 billion in 2013. Their growing middle class has helped create a remarkable increase in certain products such as auto exports. The ACCC has been key to enter the market and to voice the members’ concerns when facing non-tariff barriers such as lack of transparency doing business. A recent ACCC‘s survey indicated that 60 percent of those U.S.-based businesses that responded said that “they feel foreign businesses are less welcome in the country than before – up from the 41 percent of respondents in a previous survey conducted in late 2013.”** I will be attentive to the private sector’s feedback and examine the trade and investment environment of selected Asian markets.
The best news of all is that I am working again with an extremely talented colleague, Knowledge Content Management Strategist Doug Barry. We are looking at creative ways of communicating business opportunities in Asia. It often is not “what you know,” but “who you know!” I will be sharing our progress in developing, implementing and evaluating digital marketing strategies to engage U.S. companies interested in doing business in the Asia-Pacific region.
Do I have any other interests? Fortunately, I am intellectually curious and passionate about sharing issues I believe are important with others, whether it is animal ethics, competing worldviews, impact finance or advice from my experiences from nearly three decades living and working overseas. It doesn’t have to be all about exporting!
What are your main hopes and concerns about doing business overseas? What keeps you up at night? What brings a smile to your face and heart? Looking forward to reading your comments here soon!
Best regards, Wanda
* Singapore ranks #1 for US companies to staff overseas operations, September 4, 2013, Brain Gain Asia LLC Blog.
** AMCHAM Blasts China’s ‘Opaque’ Investment Rules, September 22, 2014, Global Trade.
Images courtesy of rawforbeauty.com and Ogilvy & Mather.
This article originally appeared as part of LinkedIn’s #BehindTheScenes series.