Give Networking A Chance

Embrace the power of networking.

Embrace the power of networking.

To some, the thought of entering a room filled with strangers all with an eager intent to shake hands and exchange business cards can be daunting. The intimidating atmosphere can make you feel uneasy, unworthy, and unknowledgeable.

For these reasons, many people avoid the opportunity to network with professionals in their fields. Donna Cook is a published author who has expressed her hesitation to engage in networking in a recent article on her blog titled, “Why Networking is Not the Dirty Word I Thought it Was.” (Visit Donna Cook’s blog at or read her book, Gift of the Phoenix.)

She describes her preconceived notion of what a networking event would entail: “I envisioned a bunch of well-dressed folks whipping out their business cards with a suave smile. I imagined a flow of conversation that persuaded everyone listening [to] ‘Do business with ME.’ It seemed exactly the sort of slick, conniving environment in which I would be doomed to fail.”

Although reluctant, she decided to attend an event for the Idaho Writer’s Guild—an organization that would help support her latest journalism endeavor. With flashbacks to her “I’m-the-new-kid-in-school-and-don’t-know-where-to-sit-in-the-cafeteria” days, she bee-lined to an open seat and sunk into her chair.

Slowly, she opened herself up to those sitting around her and became pleasantly surprised at the commonalities she shared with them. As Cook put it, they all “spoke the same language.”  She was intrigued by their personal stories and inspired by their accomplishments. In fact, she was so moved by the people she met, she decided to join the club and has been a member ever since.

Cook professes the professional benefits of networking, but believes the personal friendships are what keep her coming back for more. “…I love the group. I love the people in it. I love being a part of it,” she concludes in her article.

Similar to Cook’s realization, Cactus Section IFT offers a unique opportunity to meet people who have similar interests in food science. One of the purposes of the section is to provide an opportunity to network regarding professional goals as well as to build lasting relationships outside of the section. At Cactus Section IFT, it’s more than networking; it’s about connecting.

– Gillean Barkyoumb, MS, RD, Cactus Section IFT member