Completing circuits

Why networking matters

During our recent Seminar in Richmond, I was struck by the power of relationships. Our first meeting of the trip was in the Governor’s Cabinet Room with key members of the Cabinet. We discussed several issues affecting Virginia Agriculture, including the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, H2A regulations, and workforce development. These leaders made it very clear that they wanted to be accessible and work together through their departments to better our Commonwealth. Seeing as this was my first time in such a situation, maybe that’s always the case. However, as a person who likes to see things get accomplished for the betterment of my friends and neighbors, I came away feeling like I could call any of their offices and be heard.

Next was a visit to Belmont Butchery, where we met Tanya Cauthen, who used her culinary experience to build a tremendous local business. Again we were reminded that great partnerships make for successful endeavors. As a small business nerd, I loved hearing of her close relationships with her staff, customers, and producers. Loyal customers say a lot about a company, and it’s clear Tanya has mastered that. It was here that I tried pâté for the first time, which was amazing, but my unpopular opinion was that it reminded me of Potted Meat. You can take me out of Rockingham County, but in some situations, you can’t take Rockingham County out of me.

We had some time to explore, and a small group wandered over to the Pocahontas Building, where we met with my Delegate, Tony Wilt, and discussed his priorities for the upcoming General Assembly Session. After which, we all met in the House Chamber to be introduced by Delegate Bobby Orrock. I’ve never been a person who gets involved in the governmental process, but more and more, I find myself drawn to it. Not in a political way but more in the process itself. In the Chamber, I found my childhood neighbor, and we talked about dairy product availability. We helped her find what she was looking for in her local market. A connection I did not have in the ag space – she knew someone in our group would have the answer.

Throughout this Seminar, the Agribusiness Dinner, Media & Advocacy Training at Virginia Farm Bureau, at each stop, and even in our after-hours conversations, connections were a recurring theme. In leadership, connections and relationships are paramount to success. None of us has the answer for everything, and none are experts on every topic. Reciprocal connections mean you always “have a person” for “that,” whatever “that” is. To me, these relationships aren’t about favors or loopholes but more about what those around us have to offer, which we can repay with our own attributes and talents.

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