From his experience in the international dietary supplements market, Ean Brandon shares invaluable lessons. Find out what he already knows.

Ean Brandon, International Business Development Director

February 10, 2024

4 Min Read
Ean A. Brandon has been an international marketer, salesperson, and consultant in the dietary supplements space for over 12 years.

In 2013, I was working for a smaller white label supplement supplier, several tradeshows were happening, but I was not invited to any of them. Having served as an account representative with the company for less than a year, I felt a unique pressure to validate the decision to recruit me directly after completing my undergraduate degree.

Despite my hard work within the company, my hands-on experience in the supplement industry was limited, intensifying my desire to showcase the value I could bring. I was low man on the totem and a decade younger than the other sales reps, but I had two tools in my belt that would prove life-changing: a strong work ethic and a passport.

One man’s jury duty is another man’s daydream. Our top international sales manager was called for jury duty and could no longer attend the Arab Health Show. Everyone the CEO asked to attend the trade show, up and down the chain of command, could not make it. Beyond belief, the offer came down to me. There was no hesitation in my answer. I would represent our company at the Arab Health Show in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. I was leaving North America for the first time.

Expectations were low. It was my first time off the continent. I wasn't a dedicated polyglot with a 2,000-day Duolingo streak. I had never studied multicultural or international relations, and I hadn’t even discovered eDiplomat yet. A mentor of mine gave me this simple advice: Just listen, learn and be friendly. Would these basic principles be enough for me to succeed in something so new?

Not only did I learn a lot, but I closed several six-figure deals and made amazing connections that will last a lifetime.

This pivotal trip to Dubai highlighted an essential truth: real breakthroughs in international business often require more than digital communication. While emails, calls and virtual meetings are valuable, they pale in comparison to the impact of personal encounters. For me, attending international trade shows has proven to be the most effective method for expanding our client base abroad.

If you haven’t set your New Year resolutions for 2024, attending an international trade show is a good one to put at the top of your list. Here are some trade shows for you to consider:

  • Vitafoods Europe: With over 25,000 professionals from 130 countries last year, this Geneva, Switzerland-based event on May 14-16 is a prime networking opportunity.

  • Vitafoods Asia: Scheduled for Sept. 18-20 in Bangkok, Thailand, it offers both in-person and virtual participation, ideal for those starting their international journey.

  • Expobelleza Andalucía in Spain: This February event is a nexus for beauty and personal care industry professionals, opening doors to unique client prospects. Typically, this event is scheduled for early February.

  • Arab Health in Dubai: The organization’s 2023 poll found that 85% of attendees sourced new suppliers, and attendance in 2024 was expected to include more than 110,000 professionals from at least 180 countries. The next event is Jan. 27-30, 2025.

Remember, success in these settings isn't just about attendance. It's about cultural immersion. Even basic research into the host country's culture and etiquette can significantly enhance your interactions and prevent misunderstandings.

I encourage you to completely throw yourself into international trading. The global stage is ready for what the USA brings to the table.

Venturing into international trade isn't just a choice; it's an invitation to contribute to a world eager for innovation. Stay in the loop with global happenings, become fluent in the language of opportunity, and connect with international thought leaders. The world truly opens up to you at an international trade show. Attend an international trade show in 2024, because this could be the catalyst for creating a global legacy for your career. It changed my life and professional career.

Ean A. Brandon has been an international marketer, salesperson and consultant in the dietary supplements space for over 12 years. He currently serves as director of international business development for Somafina.

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About the Author(s)

Ean Brandon

International Business Development Director, Somafina

Ean A. Brandon holds an MBA in Healthcare Administration and boasts a decade of experience in the global supplement industry. Over the years, he has served as a representative for multiple U.S. supplement manufacturers, playing a pivotal role in their endeavors to establish international distribution networks and strengthen brand presence around the world. When not traveling, Ean lives in Knoxville, Tennessee, with his wife and a beloved pug companion. He currently serves as International Business Development Director at Somafina.

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