Five Reasons You MUST Attend Agricultural Industry Trade Shows

Five Reasons You MUST Attend Agricultural Industry Trade Shows

The agricultural industry is BIG. I mean MASSIVE.

The scope of our industry doesn’t always fully sink in as we read about it on the internet or in textbooks. Even though I get to “talk ag” every day, I still often lose site of just how many vast opportunities exist in the agricultural industry.

One of the best reminders that I know of is the International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE) held every year in Atlanta.

This year the expo hosted over 30,000 attendees. 1,500 of those attendees were exhibitors that occupied over 500,000 square feet of floor space.

IPPE is a collaboration between the American Feed Industry Association, the North American Meat Institute, and The U.S. Poultry & Egg Association. Many just refer to the event as “the poultry show”. While poultry is a large focus, the scope goes beyond just the poultry industry.

One cool thing that also goes on at IPPE is that they hold a collegiate program that offers job interviewing, networking, a keynote speaker, and access to the trade floor. I’m a huge fan of this idea and would like to see it spread to other conventions.

After my experiences there last week, I am more convinced than ever that you must include at least one event like this on your calendar every year. Especially if you want to be a leader in your industry.

Here are five reasons why:

    1. They expand your worldview. Events such as the IPPE open your eyes to how many opportunities exist in your industry. As I mentioned at IPPE there were over 1,500 exhibitors. That’s 1,500 people that have started businesses or organizations, and 1,500 potential employers. For a lot of us that also means 1,500 potential customers. You don’t get opportunities like that very often.
    2. Meet new people. There is no better way to meet new people in your industry than these events. Everywhere I went in downtown Atlanta last week, I was surrounded by people in the poultry or processing industries. In and around the hotels, the elevators, coffee shops, restaurants, and bars. Not to mention on the trade show floor, in the workshops, or at the many hospitality rooms that are held around the event. There is no easier way to meet more people in your industry than by taking advantage of some of these opportunities.
    3. Build deeper relationships. The best relationships are built through shared experience. These days, most business is done over the phone and online. However, there is no replacement for face to face interaction. Shows such as IPPE are great places to deepen relationships by meeting in person.
    4. Get inspired. Being around other industry leaders has a way of getting both the competitive and the creative juices flowing. IPPE was a great show for me to renew my motivation. Also, I was able to brainstorm with people who had the experience to give me very valuable feedback on my own ideas for the future.
    5. Get your name out there. You may have heard it said “it’s not who you know, but who knows you.” While I can think of several exceptions to that very general statement, I do believe it’s important to develop your personal brand. Part of building your personal brand is showing up to important places regularly. I met someone this year who said they remembered seeing me at the show last year even though we didn’t get a chance to meet. I thought that was pretty cool. If you want to be perceived as an industry veteran, you need to have been seen at key industry events for more than just a year or two.

You can take a look at some of the other agriculturally-related events on our 2017 Ag Networking Calendar.

Also, I’m curious to hear from you: what are some of your favorite ag trade shows and events? Do any of them offer collegiate programs?

Over the next few months I will be at the Commodity Classic and the National Agri-Marketing Conference. If you’re going to be there, I’d love to meet up!

Tim Hammerich

Tim is a strategic communications consultant, founder of AgGrad, and the host of the "Future of Agriculture" podcast. Originally from California, he is now based out of Boise, Idaho.