Be Sure to have some Cattle Conventions on your to-do List Next Year
Published on Tue, 11/05/2019 - 1:28pm
Be Sure to have some Cattle Conventions on your to-do List Next Year.
By Jaclyn Krymowski.
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show ushers in over 9,000 cattle enthusiasts for more than three days of engaging festivities. It marks the beginning of yet another year full of education and networking opportunities for cattlemen and professionals from all industry sectors. While it can be difficult to get away from the demands of day to day ranch and cattle life, the chance to attend industry events is incredibly rewarding. And when such rare opportunities can be seized, it is natural to want to make the absolute most of them.
Planning your stay
The first step to making the most of your precious time at trade shows and conventions is to plan in advance. The lull of winter is a good time to think of what events you’d like to hit in the coming year. Think of what would be most appealing and beneficial to your goals and interests. And remember, getting a full experience need not be over expensive and involve extensive travel. You may be very surprised at what industry events are offered on your state and regional levels.
Once you know where you’re headed, be sure to sit down and do a bit of homework. Many industry events are big and can be intimidating if you’re a first timer. Luckily the internet has made planning even the smallest details a breeze. Just about every event, major and minor, has a complete website and/or social media presence. Here you can expect to find itineraries, vendors, maps, programming and other helpful things. This is also a good place where you can offer your own feedback, read reviews and make connections ahead of time and afterwards.
There are almost several practical things to bear in mind, similar to any other travel plans you’d make for a fair or show. Sometimes hotel space and parking spaces are tight for certain events. Likewise, keep aware of food availability and other expenses. Are there ways you can cut costs? Could parking be an issue? And don’t forget about things like flight arrangements, weather conditions and a plan in case of emergency.
One of the best parts of cattle conventions is the wealth of information and industry professionals accumulated in one place. Planning ahead helps you make the very most of your valuable time by choosing which seminars you’ll be attending. Consider not only what bit of information might be applicable to your operation or business, but also what you’d like to know about the larger industry happening in the outside world.
If you’re traveling with a group, use the “divide and conquer” technique to hit as many useful events as possible. And if there’s a timeslot with no seminars of particular interest or value to you, don’t feel pressured to go. Instead, use that time to check out the vendors at the trade show, socialization at the bars or just head back to your hotel room for a well-deserved break.
Speaking of trade shows, there’s also a lot to be learned from the vendors. Often the latest and greatest in industry innovations and technology will be on display. Sometimes you can even watch live demonstrations, so it pays to spend some time checking out the booths and chatting with a few of the vendors. There’s more to be had there than commercial interests. You can also find some practical tools and solutions to take back home.
Another great resource at a lot of conventions are panel discussions and question and answer sessions. One of the benefits of these are the opportunity to interact with experienced professionals and specialists. It helps if you have an idea of what you’d like to learn from these sessions, write it down, and if you don’t get what you’re looking for be sure to ask. Chances are if you’re wondering something, at least a couple other folks in the audience are curious as well.
There’s a lot of casual learning to be had from other people and businesses present. And don’t let that downplay all the things you and your business have to bring to the table. One of the best free marketing techniques out there is simple human connection. It’s getting your name, face and brand out there in a meaningful way so that word of mouth and identity can speak for themselves. Remember to grab a handful of business cards and keep them on your person. If a particular conversation strikes you, be sure to ask for someone’s card. You never know when down the road any given connection could be meaningful. The same goes for any speakers you hear throughout the day, take home any materials with their name and contact information and don’t be shy about asking them follow up questions even after the event is over. Many are more than happy to help when they can and open more dialogue.
While there’s certainly a lot to be done related to your business and education, don’t forget to take a moment to enjoy the social gatherings and any entertainment the event offers. This is not only a nice getaway from the hustle and bustle of ranch life, it could also be a further opportunity to connect with fellow attendees.
The beef industry, with its small size and close community, has its advantages and disadvantages. But what does help continually improve it is active participation by individuals working towards the common goal of wholesome, safe and quality food productions. Attending events dedicated to helping grow and cultivate benefits everyone. Don’t be shy about participating. Go and learn what you can, take away what’s helpful, and be sure to bring all the knowledge, experience and creativity you have to the table. You never know who you’ll impact!