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Food for Thought at Future Connect

There is one thing that I am especially looking forward to at Food Marketing Institute’s Future Connect 2011 conference this week: lunch.

New to the conference this year are so-called “idea tables” at the noontime meal where conference leaders will spearhead discussions around specific topics at each specially designated table. Specific topics planned include joint business planning, supplier diversity and others. The goal is to get retailers, wholesalers and suppliers sitting down with each other talking about subjects that are of interest to all parties.

While group meals are always good times for mingling and meeting new people at industry conferences and trade shows, these idea tables could help people get past the “where are you from?” and “how was your flight?” small talk and into some meaningful business discussions.

Certainly there will be a lot to take away from many of the sessions at the conference, from marketing and merchandising strategies to communications and hiring skills. But perhaps the most important and longest-lasting takeaways from industry events such as this are the relationships that are formed through the face-to-face interactions with fellow attendees.

The luncheon idea tables should present strong opportunities for such networking, along with the scheduled refreshment breaks and the Tuesday evening reception.

It’s been almost two years since the inaugural — and highly successful —Future Connect conference in October of 2009. It’s good to see new tweaks such as the luncheon idea tables being added.

OK, now let's eat!