Networking event at SPC Advance 2012 in Toronto

Networking event at SPC Advance 2012 in Toronto


There is unparalleled value in face-to-face conversation. Despite the rise of ubiquitous instant communication in this Internet Age, it’s still essential to get to know people in real life.

When you’re getting to know people in real life in a work-related capacity, this is called networking, naturally. But the word networking comes with its own set of preconceptions and for some, skepticisms. As the Harvard Business Review recently discussed, some individuals don’t take full advantage of networking at conferences because sometimes it feels inauthentic or obligatory. If you relate to this concept at all, perhaps consider Sonia Sotomayor’s take on it:

Sometimes, idealistic people are put off by the whole business of networking as something tainted by flattery and the pursuit of selfish advantage. But virtue in obscurity is rewarded only in Heaven. To succeed in this world you have to be known to people.”

Sonia Sotomayor

Taking this sage advice to heart, think about SPC Advance as an opportunity to become known. See it for what it truly is: a chance to have real conversations and build real relationships.

Also consider how networking at SPC Advance may allow you to evolve in your professional work. It’s an oft-cited phenomenon that physical proximity of creative individuals to one another gives rise to increased innovation. Remember that the Sustainable Packaging Coalition is grounded in the principle of collaboration, and we hold conferences twice a year because we’re dedicated to creating the best possible space for that to happen. Having conversations with new people or maintaining existing relationships will allow you to bring fresh ideas back to your organization.

You’ll be able to participate in a wide spectrum of networking opportunities at this year’s conference. Events include working sessions, hands-on workshops, off-site tours, and fun-based activities.

I’m very much looking forward to the tour to go on-site with a family woodlands owner, as well as the visit to a local material recovery facility. What’s great about things like tours is that you take the concepts and realities of your everyday work and you get to see those concepts and realities play out in a pragmatic, physical way. On-site visits open up curiosities, and expand your image of what you think something is or should be.

I find more formal networking events like working sessions and workshops so stimulating because you have to opportunity to glance across company cultures and philosophical perspectives between participants. When someone contributes to a conversation they’re not just contributing data; you get to see what’s unique about what they’ve learned in their field, and contextualize that with your own experience. It’s honest and open. What’s more, it’s satisfying to get the rare opportunity to professionally collaborate in person on something that is, in some part, a future frontier. A great example in point is the working session for the new Industry Leadership Committee on Pharmaceutical Packaging, the very first group of its kind.

And then, there are the breezy events to even things out: yoga will be taught on Wednesday morning by SPC Executive Committee member Amy Duquette for the early risers, and the pub crawl will feature establishments in downtown Charlotte serving North Carolinian microbrews.

Networking at SPC Advance will allow you to get a sense of where your peers are driving the future of sustainability. Come and allow yourself to become known.

By Kelly Cramer, Project Associate