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Professionally Speaking...

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by James Gormley -

There are several important aspects to being a good, or better, professional in the natural products industry, and for that matter any industry, a couple of which I will mention briefly.

The first is: be knowledgeable.

The Natural Products Association (NPA) offers at least 12 seminars a year in conjunction with trade shows on such topics as cGMP training, claims, labeling, and more.  In addition to its annual conference and its webinars, the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) offers database resources, such as its FDA Warning Letters Database and its NAD Case DatabaseThe U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention offers a range of educational options, too, including classroom-based, live webinars and online courses.

The second is: be nice and be responsive.

By this, I mean, apply the Golden Rule: get back with prospective clients/partners or customers promptly, and courteously. Some companies have specific policies on responses, such as within a set number of hours, but mainly make sure to respond or follow-up promptly, get the answers they need, or, if you are asking the questions: be considerate and not overly demanding.

Focus on building relationships; the money/profit will follow.

Trade-show etiquette and manners probably warrants its own 3,000-word article, but follow the above principles at trade shows, too. We know people are there mainly for orders and contracts, but we shouldn’t be mercenary and rude about it.

If you are at a retail or supply show, and another vendor stops by, don’t look at the color of his or her badge and turn away—you never know what opportunities might come out of any encounter, in addition to the goodwill about your company that may be spread by word of mouth.

If you are visiting a booth at a trade show and you are not there to place orders, try to be considerate by paying attention to how busy they are with booth activities; maybe you can drop off your card, get a card, or just stop by later.

While this is just the briefest outline of a few key pointers, they bear repeating because I am sure we have all seen, experienced, or run into people who fall into some of the examples above. So saying “Be professional” may not be as a big a no-brainer as we would like to think it is.

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