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Petfood Forum 101 is a first-time show attendee and exhibitor program for Petfood Forum USA 2018. | Tess Stukenberg
on March 13, 2018

Making the most of Petfood Forum networking opportunities

Hear from Petfood Forum veterans about the benefits of networking at the annual pet food industry trade show and conference.

Networking is, arguably, the most important aspect of any trade show or conference, and Petfood Forum is no different. Each year, thousands of people come from all over the world to exhibit at or attend Forum, and nearly all of them have one thing in common (besides pet food, of course): they are there to network.

The benefits of networking at Petfood Forum

“My favorite part of Petfood Forum would be the opportunities to socialize!” says Marcy Colescott, chief operating officer of Ameri-Pac Inc. and a long-time Forum attendee.Personally, I don’t have a chance to get out of the office and meet our customers very often, so it’s good to see old friends and meet new people. The atmosphere at Petfood Forum is fairly relaxed, so whether someone is your customer or your competitor, the spirit of everyone meeting on common ground makes Forum unique. I’m not saying there isn’t any intrigue, but the environment is such that you can shake hands with just about anyone for those three days and walk away feeling connected with the industry.”

It’s not just the attendees who come for the networking and social opportunities, however.

“For us, Petfood Forum has been a vital tool for us to come to one location and get a chance to see many of our customers face-to-face,” says Danny Hudson, sales/engineering for Pappas Inc. Pappas has been exhibiting at Forum since the late 1990s, and Hudson has attended forum himself since 2000. “Often what you find with phone conversations, email, texting, etc. is the personal relationship is missing and customers are often distracted with doing their business (which they should be focused on!)," he says. "Petfood Forum provides a unique opportunity to have a conversation and be able to discuss issues or plans customers may have without those distractions. And, like it or not, I think everyone needs to step away from the daily grind and look at things from the outside so they can see the ‘big picture’ instead of being focused on putting out fires in their day-to-day operations. It benefits both them and their company to allow this breathing room, and gives us a unique opportunity to engage in brainstorming sessions to either eliminate a current problem or plan for a future project.”

Making the most of Petfood Forum’s networking opportunities

One look at Petfood Forum and Innovation Workshop 2018’s schedule will reveal a plethora of networking and socializing opportunities for first-timers and returnees alike to take advantage of.

“The best advice I can provide a first-time attendee would be to network,” says Gail Kuhlman, manager of product conformance, research and development with Mars Petcare. Kuhlman also has the distinction of having been to every Petfood Forum since the show’s inception in 1993. “Take advantage of all opportunities to connect with others across the industry, whether by walking the floor show, sitting with ‘new’ faces during lunch or connecting with others during the opening and closing sessions,” she says. “It’s an excellent way to deepen your learning and build partnerships that can last a lifetime.”

Schedule highlights: Networking at Petfood Forum

APRIL 23: Petfood Innovation Workshop

7:00 am – 8:00 am: Petfood Innovation Workshop continental breakfast, Grand Ballroom A

8:45 am – 9:00 am: Petfood Innovation Workshop coffee break (grab and go), Grand Ballroom A

11:20 am – 12:15 pm: Lunch, K-State Olathe

1:50 pm – 2:30 pm: Coffee break, K-State Olathe

5:30 pm – 7:30 pm: Petfood Forum and Petfood Innovation Workshop opening reception, Grand Ballroom D, Kansas City Convention Center

APRIL 24: Petfood Forum

7:30 – 8:30 am: Breakfast, 3500 rooms

10:15 am – 10:45 am: Coffee break, Exhibit Hall E, Kansas City Convention Center

11:45 am – 1:00 pm: Lunch, 3500 rooms, Kansas City Convention Center

2:30 pm – 3:00 pm: Coffee break, Exhibit Hall E, Kansas City Convention Center 

4:00 pm – 5:30 pm: Exhibit Hall Networking Reception, Exhibit Hall E, Kansas City Convention Center 

4:30 pm – 5:15 pm: Poster reception, Exhibit Hall E, Kansas City Convention Center

APRIL 25: Petfood Forum

7:30 – 8:30 am: Breakfast, 3500 rooms

10:00 am – 10:30 am: Coffee break, Exhibit Hall E, Kansas City Convention Center

11:45 am – 1:00 pm: Lunch, 3500 rooms, Kansas City Convention Center

2:30 pm – 3:00 pm: Coffee break, Exhibit Hall E, Kansas City Convention Center

4:45 pm – 6:30 pm: Closing reception – KC BBQ Bash, Grand Ballroom D, Kansas City Convention Center

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