Many of us who have built long careers in this industry have done so because we have had the pleasure of cultivating long-term relationships that have helped to advance our careers and businesses.

Most of us have done this during much simpler times. Those of us older industry citizens refer to those days as “the good-old days.” But today, with the rapid pace of change we all face and with many younger people more comfortable communicating through texting rather than through tried-and-true ways of building personal networks such as connecting by phone or better yet, in person, it is vital we cultivate a strong network for our next generation of leaders in our companies.

Now it could just be me or the fact I’m a grandfather, but I just can’t see how the next generation of leaders will ever build a network by engaging in the back and forth of sending 10 texts when a phone call would be so much easier. It just may be my personal desire to personally talk to someone rather than engaging in the back and forth of the text barrage. Or maybe it’s the fact I type too slow and get three texts before I have finished replying to the first text?

As we look to cultivate the abilities of our emerging men and women leaders on our management teams who will drive the dynamic change needed to happen for our firms to grow and thrive, it’s incumbent upon us to look to provide a strong network for them to rely upon.

Our buying groups are important and offer value, but the value from building networks in other areas is also crucial to the growth of our next generation of leaders. And networking with people in similar perspectives or job functions is highly valuable to our employees.

The American Supply Association has built two critical networks that have rapidly grown in both participation and value. Our Women in Industry Division has seen unprecedented growth and having recently attended their annual conference in Savannah, Georgia, I can attest that the energy and excitement happening in this division has given me great satisfaction that the future of our industry will be well-served as we look to attract more women into our industry.

And having just returned from attending the ASA Emerging Leaders Spring Forum held in Jersey City, New Jersey, I am excited that both of our rapidly growing divisions now give ASA a one-two punch in valuable networking options for our members. Between both sessions, we had more than 400 of our industry’s next generation of leaders building their current and future networks.

We must make sure that these young leaders get the same valuable networks that we spent a generation cultivating ourselves and have benefited from.

Over the next few issues of Supply House Times magazine, you will see highlights from both of these highly valuable networking conferences. The excitement and value in sending your key future team members is real.

The benefits I have personally seen in my company after having members of my team come back from these sessions pumped and excited about their future is undeniable.

While both the Women in Industry and Emerging Leaders conferences are over for this year, get your company signed up to be a part of the exciting things happening in these two divisions and make sure the women professionals and emerging leaders in your company are receiving the information these two groups offer throughout the year.

Get them connected today and watch the excitement in your company grow.