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Two Ways to Truly Benefit from Suppliers’ Night

shake-hands

Networking is about connecting and building relationships. (Credit: Flickr)

This year’s Cactus Section IFT Suppliers’ Night provides you with the unique opportunity to meet face to face with fellow professionals in the food, beverage, and nutraceutical industries. Suppliers come to show the services, ingredients, or equipment they can offer to companies or consultants with the hope of creating a business partnership and generating revenue.

But Suppliers’ Night is meant to be much more than a sales pitch. To truly benefit from this event, there are two things you should try to do. First, network with the intent of building genuine relationships. Secondly, learn something new.

When networking at Suppliers’ Night, focus on building authentic relationships that are more than just a handshake and an exchange of business cards. As the CEO of Zappos, Tony Hsieh, encourages in an article for the Huffington Post, avoid networking in the traditional sense and, “instead try to build up the number and depth of your friendships, where the friendship itself is its own reward.”

Don’t be mistaken though; making connections with people could greatly benefit your business. However, the foundation of trust and commitment through a friendship can make all the difference when working on business matters. You never know how the relationship you built could lead to future endeavors and partnerships.

Also, keep an open mind about the connections you make by getting to know people that might not be in your direct line of business. It’s a good way to gain different insights and new perspectives. More importantly, don’t forget to follow up and maintain the relationships you invested your time into building.

Suppliers’ Night is also an opportunity to learn something new. As you make your rounds visiting with people and looking for solutions, keep an eye out for new products, services, or new ways of doing things. This is the time to ask questions directly to industry experts. If you see an ingredient or service that’s new to you or catches your attention (even if it’s not related to your work), make the effort to learn about it. It may just provide you with new insight for future projects or products.

Having an open mind at Suppliers’ Night allows you to build new relationships and learn new concepts, both of which can support your business. At this year’s Suppliers’ Night, make a conscious effort to build genuine friendships and learn new things.

-Quchat Shekarri, Cactus Section Secretary-Elect