That is the keyword which business rotates around. If your business’ name comes up at the right moment at the right place, you are likely to be contacted by another business who wants to deal with you. Wrong place and wrong moment, you’re out!

So what we all look for is to be represented properly, whether that is by advertisements, sales agents, chambers of commerce or our governments’ agencies. It doesn’t matter as long as we are prominent.

The internet is one, maybe the most important, of the platforms that are ideal to represent the industry, and to be present at the right moment at the right place, primarily because you are being looked for by those who are interested in contacting you.

To construct a website graphically is child’s play. It is a matter of taking your time and letting your imagination go. To construct a database of some depth is a totally different matter.

You need other databases to do so. There are hundreds, thousands of databases on the internet. Some are very good, but all have some drawback, and without any doubt there will not be a database that is perfect.

You cannot, however, randomly tap into other people’s databases to obtain information for your own. Moreover, many databases have trapdoors with wrong information to keep others from borrowing data.

In-depth research on a variety of sites in the internet is extremely time consuming and it is not, as I have learned, the right way to put a database together, although some times it helps out. You can sit for hours behind your screen and find nothing relevant.

So in order to have the most reliable information, free of charge and open to the public, you ask friends, institutions, chambers of commerce and embassies to provide names and addresses of those sectors of our industry you want to relate to.

You can also go through hundreds of Yellow Pages to find the required data. For mere consultation, a large number of leather connected sites are not accessible because you have to pay a subscription fee, meaning that whoever hasn’t paid can’t access your data, which limits your representation, as not everybody wants to be a member of the same club. Also some cannot afford to become members of a club or a series of clubs.

If you decide to contact official institutions, you are in for quite a few surprises, some positive, some negative. Some chambers of commerce respond positively to an appeal for information, but some of the data offered surprises because of the limited quantity and, moreover, because of the level of the quality.

It looks as if the registers of these chambers of commerce are not regularly updated or, at the least, do not contain the information one is looking for. Just try and ask for names and addresses of companies in the leather trade such as hides and skins traders, tanneries, manufacturers of leathergoods, chemical companies etc.

You will receive lists of names, but many do not indicate who represents what, meaning that if your client asks your chamber of commerce for a tannery, it is quite possible that he gets a list that includes a boutique that sells sexy leather lingerie in Main Street as well as the name of your tannery, without being able to tell the difference.

Some chambers of commerce and embassies, who seem not to have relevant data close at hand, will give you references of institutions or professional organisations in their home country, most of which, however, will never answer.

The usually efficient Germans, who have a government agency to provide information about their industries, when contacted, will not answer or may take its own time to answer.

The Canadians are offering their help by saying that they are not convinced it is in the interest of Canadian business to provide data and only after you point out that Canadians are exporters of raw hides and skins, and importers of leather and leather products, you get the URL of a website address of LLHA, which contains the names and addresses of leathergoods producers, importers and exporters in Canada, but nothing about the rest of the leather industry.

The Czech embassy might give you the address of a professional organisation that represents the textile and leather industry, but they will respond to your inquiry that the request requires time and effort and that they want money to put the information together. So much for the representation of their members!

The majority of embassies won’t even reply and, surprisingly, you can expect that NONE of the embassies of the developing countries will reply, despite the fact that your request to them for information expresses your obvious intention to try and develop business with their countries.

The Swiss will send you a CD-Rom developed by Osec, Swiss Export and Trade, with the full, very helpful directory of their whole industry. For our industry, however, it contains the data of only three tanneries instead of the existing five or six.

On the internet when you query Yahoo for tanneries in Russia, you get two names, one of which is a direct link to a porn site. The best and most comprehensive database on-line you find is an Indian directory.

Therefore, I think I am understating the situation if I affirm that the leather industry could be represented better, but it is obvious that each individual company must work on that themselves.

It is virtually impossible, for any industry, to create a number of databases that encompass the whole world and to check the data one obtains from a large variety of sources, some of which are in contrast one with another for the same subject. You can find one telephone number in one database and a different number in another for the same company.

Therefore, statistically, a certain percentage of data is incorrect, whether it is ours or that of other industries and it is tough luck if yours is the company that has the wrong data listed!

The purpose of this Limeblast is to make you aware that one should check the various databases on a regular basis, those of your institutions included. In this way you can make corrections where necessary. Otherwise people won’t be able to reach you.

In the same way, you should also check to see if you are listed in all relevant websites where you might be supposed to be represented. If you are not or are incorrectly listed in the published categories, thenyou can send the correct data to those databases in the hope that they will amend their listing.

If you receive requests for your data, don’t shred the request but reply properly, in order to avoid that you disappear.

Sam Setter