Farming is not a sport and growers do not have an “off season.” Running a farm operation takes year-round attention, which means that farmers need to remain on-point, even during the winter months. When crops aren’t in the field, growers are building strategies to make the next year more successful than the one before it. Agricultural conferences and trade shows can be valuable tools to help growers as they construct plans for the next growing season.
Valley® technology expert John Campbell regularly speaks at conferences around the country. John’s goal in speaking is to educate growers about the latest technologies that irrigation companies are providing and how that tech translates into a successful season for the grower.
“A conference is, by definition, a formal meeting for discussion, and, in practice, it can be an incredible way to gain and share knowledge, improve your farming practices and form invaluable connections,” says Campbell. “My advice is to shake off your inhibitions and talk to everyone.”
To help you make the most of the conferences you plan to attend, we’ve put together a short list of tips.
1. Pick the best conference(s) for you and your farm.
It’s not about the destination, but more about the content. Don’t just pick a conference because it is close to you or in a location that you want to visit. Start with the topic, then find the location. What do you consider the most important subject to learn about before the next growing season?
2. This is not a vacation.
During the cold months, it can be very tempting to pick a warm spot and relax on the beach. And you should get some time to relax, but make sure you relax after the events and speakers are finished. Be attentive, meet people and, above all, make sure you pay attention to tip number three!
3. Take notes like there’s going to be an exam.
This may not be the first tip on this list, but it might be the most important tip – take notes. Take detailed notes of things that the speakers are telling you. If they present findings, write them down and compare them to your results. If they put their contact information in their slide deck, write it down so that you can ask them questions in the future. Some information that may not seem helpful now could become extremely helpful in the future. Taking good notes is the easiest way to maximize your time at any conference.
4. Don’t forget your business cards.
Chances are high that you will meet new people while attending conferences, and you might want to continue communication with these people after the event. This is where business cards come in. Not only are they a great way to give and receive contact information, but they also serve as helpful little reminders after the event is over. You can even take it one step further and write notes to yourself on specific business cards you get to remind yourself why you kept that card.
5. Finish strong.
Traveling can be very draining, but don’t use that as an excuse to forget about all the things you learned while you were away. After you get home, do a proper assessment of your notes and learnings to determine how they can help you in the coming year. Organize and file your notes away properly so that you can easily find what you are looking for, should you need to reference your notes later in the year.
Depending on the location or length of any given conference, it might seem costly or time consuming to attend, but with planning and discipline, it can be one of the best investments you can make for your operation. As Benjamin Franklin said, “An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.”
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