Back on the Exhibiting Circuit 

A global pandemic and a highly skilled team of network professionals have more than efficiently taken exhibiting on our collective work at RIC off my portfolio. And having done this for many, many years a part of me has not missed it.  This said, opportunity knocked over the past 6 months and it was enjoyable to get back out there and talk about our important work to new audiences. 

OMSSA is the Ontario Municipal Social Services Association, a group in which KMb York had very brief engagement with many years back. In an examination of strategic opportunities to build collaborative connections, an OMSSA stream of sponsorship which allows for exhibiting at two member conferences over the year seemed like a solid investment for KMb York. Not only for us, but with an eye on building a relationship with OMSSA that could benefit Ontario members of RIC (maybe a RIC Ontario node in the future?). Their Policy Conference (in Dec 2023) and Exchange Conference (May 2024) were firmly placed in the KMb York calendar. The December experience was excellent. Easy for me to say, since I was home with Covid, but Krista and Sandy (from the RIC team) stepped up in my absence to educate and inform the audience of RIC and KMb services across Ontario. I am keen to attend their Exchange Conference and deepen some of the connections made. I understand this process requires an investment strategy and relationship building takes time. I am happy for that as I foresee strong mutual benefit. 

The RIC Network’s pursuit of Lab to Market funding opened another strategic relationship opportunity, this time with the National Association of Friendship Centres, who signed on as a collaborator for the LOI. To display our commitment to this relationship – and there is nothing covert about this – I initiated a request to exhibit at their Social Economy Conference held in February in Ottawa. A showcase of our commitment to collaborate, learn more about the scope of important work that NAFC leads, and to introduce participants to the research capacity of RIC to support their knowledge needs, was an excellent and fruitful exercise.   

As is often the case at conferences there was excellent conversations, emerging opportunities, new connections formed, and the fabric woven for a deepening relationship between organizations. In my experience, the content is important, but the genuine currency is the relationships which are formed between larger organizations. This demonstrates commitment, support and strengthens an emerging partnership. And these are aspects of exhibiting that I genuinely love. Was I a little out of practice? Of course, but it is like riding a bike. And once the first few conversations were under my belt, it felt nice to be back! 

The only real change for me was a commitment to avoid carbs and focus on a balanced diet. There is a lot more work to do, and this broker needs to keep healthy to help advance our work! 

Cannot wait to get back at it this spring for the OMSSA Exchange Conference! Meeting new people, learning, and sharing about the value of the important work we do. Makes the coffee taste a little better!