Headed to FNCE? Get Ready to Network

Photo: Thinkstock/milanvirijevic

The countdown has begun! It’s almost time for the Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo, or FNCE®. This is truly my favorite conference every year because there is so much to learn and see and so many people to connect with. For those that have never been or for whom it’s been awhile, this conference can be a bit overwhelming. In this post, I want to help you plan ahead and truly get the most out of your experience. It’s worth it!

It is the 100th anniversary celebration, so let’s focus on how to continue to grow this amazing profession of ours to a new level. “How do we make connections to grow personally and professionally?” continues to be a question I get all the time from my students. The number one reason I attend FNCE® is the networking and how much I am filled up and energized by the people I meet there.  Let’s learn how to get the most out of this amazing conference!

Why attend FNCE®?

Honest talk really quick — FNCE® is an investment, and it pays to know why you are making the investment. As you click to register for FNCE®, have a very clear answer to why you are attending. This is important for a couple reasons:

  1. There won’t be any buyer’s remorse. With a clear why, you are confident and calm about your purchase and know that the investment will serve your professional career and fill up your dietetic soul.
  2. You are clear on how you plan to benefit from attending. Knowing how you will actually attain those benefits makes this investment seem like a no brainer. For example, if your reason to attend FNCE® is to network with fellow RDNs (totally my why) then plan how you will accomplish that. For me, it means making time in my schedule to have coffee with a few key people I have been meaning to connect with.

Mindset Shift — How Can I Grow?

As you are getting ready for FNCE®, try to shift your mindset from feeling overwhelmed to seeing a potential for growth. Growth can come in any form — learning new MNT procedures, connecting with RDNs from across the country or meeting the faces behind your favorite products. Each of these interactions forces us to grow, which in turn helps how we serve our patients and clients.

Take some time right now to think about how you want to grow while attending FNCE®.

  • Do you want to get more plugged in to your DPG?
  • Do you want to learn about cutting edge products for your patient population?
  • Do you want to connect with dietitians you follow on social media to learn from them?
  • Is there a session that you are dying to see and plan on connecting with the speakers after?

Thinking about this before you get to FNCE® will help you to feel more in the mindset of calm and growth.

Who Do You Want to Meet?

Have you checked out the expo list and all the sessions yet? If not, do that now! I am sure we all have a list of “rock star” dietitians or products we appreciate from afar. They might be doing amazing things you admire, or they’re in a totally different space than you. Make a list of them.

Why do this? Connection with others and exposure to new products helps you build your network. Having a larger pool of people you know helps you professionally when you are needing support. I can’t tell you how many times I needed the help of a dietitian in another state or needed to connect with a brand and, because I have taken the time to meet with people on a personal level, those conversations have been seamless.

When you do meet in person, be yourself and learn from them, and also think about how can you can help and be of service to them.

Adrien Paczosa on FacebookAdrien Paczosa on InstagramAdrien Paczosa on Twitter
Adrien Paczosa
Adrien Paczosa, RD, LD, CEDRD, is the owner of I Live Well Nutrition in Austin, Texas. She is chair of the Behavioral Health Nutrition DPG, and media rep for the Texas Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic. Read her blog, and follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.