The Food and Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE®) is the most anticipated conference for food and nutrition professionals. This year, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, is celebrating its first 100 years in their hometown of Chicago and approximately 10,000 food and nutrition professionals are expected to attend. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, FNCE® 2017 will celebrate the ideologies of our founders while providing fresh perspectives on new opportunities within an ever-changing health care environment. This year’s conference is packed with advanced level education sessions that will provide attendees with actionable solutions to drive our profession into the Second Century.

My colleague and fellow dietitian, Amari Thomsen gave some great tips in her blog post for dietitians attending FNCE® last year and these still stand strong. But, for those of us that attend FNCE® as a brand representative, the conference brings a lot of work and months of planning with it. Going on my seventh year as an exhibitor representing clients Padilla works with, I have learned a lot of lessons associated with FNCE®. Below are five tips to help guide exhibitors and brand folks attending FNCE®.

  1. Everyone is an influencer – While this is an excellent opportunity to meet with media-RDs and other influencers that can help leverage your brand in the media and across social platforms, it is important to remember that every food and nutrition professional is an influencer.
    Every food and nutrition professional is an influencer.Click To Tweet

    It is crucial to take the time to speak and listen to each person you come across at the conference. This includes those working in school foodservice, counseling and academia. And remember – students are the next generation of nutrition influencers, so keep them on your radar and listen to their feedback.

  2. Scope the Scene – Take a moment and walk the expo floor to scope out new products, ingredients and the latest trends in food and nutrition. By knowing the landscape today, you become a better communicator and know what’s out there. Plus, the samples are abundant!
  3. Attend a session – The sessions at FNCE® are invaluable and innovative, plus the topics can help shape programming for your clients. Nutrition is an ever-evolving science and in order to keep on top of the latest research, you must stay educated. Scope out the agenda in advance and make the session you want to see a priority and take turns with your colleagues.
  4. Network – While you may be exhausted when the expo floor closes, take the time to network in the evening at an industry event, or a casual dinner with a new connection. You never know who you are going to meet and/or how they may be an asset to your brand in the long term. Every year, I look forward to seeing former classmates, colleagues and folks from the nutrition world in one place.
  5. Know your stuff – Just like Amari stresses the importance of knowing your elevator pitch in her post, it is crucial as a brand representative that you know the nutritional components of your product in and out, in addition to the latest research and usage ideas for your products. You should also be prepared to answer questions about the company in general and anything related to dietary restrictions and/or allergens.

I think most brand representatives will agree that FNCE® is a whirlwind and you will be busier than ever. But, you always come back with lessons learned for the next year, new contacts made and plenty of ideas swirling. So, start following the #FNCE hashtag and I’ll see you in Chicago!