District V Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee
As a farmer and/or agriculture professional, the winter months tend to be scheduled with conferences, meetings, tradeshows and the like. This downtime is valuable in planning and preparing for the next growing season or identifying improvements to ourselves and our businesses. I know the many events I have attended have provided ideas on new products or technologies and insight on grain marketing, succession planning, professional development or other business strategies. But more importantly, I have met new contacts and connected with old friends at these events.
With the next Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) Leadership Conference, I thought it would be useful to discuss how to get the most out of your conference experience.
Find the one takeaway
Every presenter or speaker shares their ideas in a different way. Some tell a story, while others rely on PowerPoint. After their presentation - ask yourself, what did they say that made me stop and think? It may have been how to start a conversation about succession planning, the newest technologies to increase yields, how to analyze your farm data, developing your personal brand or something else that caught your attention, and you are considering applying it to your career or farm business. Take note of one takeaway from each session attended.
Pursue action on ideas generated
You will get ideas from more than those described in the conference brochure, as conferences are not just about the keynote or breakout sessions. They are about surrounding yourself with like-minded folks. The other attendees may have different experiences with the concept, product or strategy being presented. You can learn from their successes or mistakes as it would apply to your business.
Don’t attend meals alone
Food brings people together. Some conferences lack a strict schedule, so take advantage of finding new friends to join you for happy hour or supper if there isn’t something formally planned.
Follow-up with new contacts
Most conversations at conference, meetings, or tradeshows end with a business card exchange. And you leave the event with a stack of cards. I would encourage you to sort and prioritize which new contacts you want to follow-up with. On the back of the business card, make note of the conference, dates and ideas exchanged. For those top contacts, don’t wait a week to send a follow-up message – send an email later that night.
Our upcoming Leadership Conference is a joint effort of the MFBF Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee and the Promotion & Education Committee to raise awareness of agriculture issues, provide advocacy tools and enhance networks, leadership skills and professional development. The 2016 Leadership Conference will be January 22-23, 2016 so I hope to see you there taking action to accelerate your career and your farm!