Professional events, trade shows, and meetings are all activities that often add to your work week, and they can sometimes result in extra effort to plan, prepare, execute, and recover. Why in the world would you attend, if you’re busy with projects and personal commitments?

Here are my top 4 reasons to attend:

  1. Network. That’s definitely the number-1 reason that I attend the full time of trade shows. My career opportunities, the mentors I know today, and the friendships in the industry that I have result from the time invested at the shows. As an upcoming podcast guest will tell you, it has opened jobs for her, because she has been actively recruited by managers she met at these events.
  2. Trends. It’s a great way to spot upcoming market trends, because the brands demo’ing at the show are hoping that category buyers for the major retailers will commit to them after reviewing the product lines. In past roles, I have cooked at the shows and have served samples to buyers right on the trade show floor! Goal: national distribution by the big guys.
  3. Education. There are a multitude of speaker events, educational breakout sessions, and presentations that you can attend (or download later) that might teach you about a new category, clarify a question, or introduce you to a new method or product.
  4. Fun. The shows are also an opportunity for some brands to host gatherings and events. There might be professional networking sessions, like the RCA’s annual event at the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, and there might be branded parties hosted by your vendors. Reach out to your suppliers to find out where you should be!

The food manufacturing industry is expansive, and the professional events and trade shows are ways to put faces to the names you have heard of or who might be emailing you. I always work twice as many hours – time spent on the trade show floor plus my regular job – but it’s so worth it!

I’m a member of the Research Chefs Association and the Institute of Food Technologists, and your brand might also be members of category-specific networks as well, including the Dressings and Sauces, Frozen Food, and Bakery and Snack. Find out from your project management team or your sourcing team where your brand is represented.

See you at the next trade show!