Not only do the
benefits of being an active member of RCA make for a really fantastic annual
conference, the connections follow you into trade shows. Right after leaving
the RCA conference in Denver, I flew to Anaheim for the last few days of the
Natural Products Expo. A behemoth of a conference, it is one of the most
significant trade shows that Lundberg Family Farms attends, and nearly twenty
of us attended during the trade show week.
I connected with
multiple vendors, some of whom do business with Lundberg right now and some who
would like to supply us with ingredients in the future. A few folks have asked “How
was the show?” I have no idea; I mostly saw it when I was wandering from one
vendor’s booth to the next. There were SO MANY PEOPLE and at least as many
booths. Whew. I’ll recap that another time.
Anyway, one thing I
loved about the week is that I got to connect with some chefs from the RCA. We
met up at the Anaheim Packing House, a warehouse building that has been
converted into a multi-business venue filled with beer halls, restaurants, ice
cream shops, and a patisserie. Several of us gathered there for beer – and
dessert, as it turns out. We each seemed to bring a new person to network, and
the connections were so fun.
As we were chatting
together, we realized that while we have such diverse backgrounds, we can
really help each other. First, we bring different networks to the table. In
addition, we bring perspectives that can help another look at a problem
differently. The experiences that we each have were also different, and that
made it really useful to say to another “well, this is how I addressed this
That same friend from
the New Orleans RCA wrote several names and numbers on napkins and gave me some
advice on some entrepreneurship and women leadership books. We didn’t get
together to whine and cry – we were getting together to share a drink. And
this, the community we’ve built, takes care of each other throughout our play
time and work time.
I know this seems like
a giant advertorial for a professional membership, but I’ve pledged to talk
about my transition from line cooking to food manufacturing, and my activity in
the RCA and friendships that have blossomed. Shameless plug for joining the
professional membership of your industry – it’s worth it when you can make
those solid connections.