Glenn Friesen Senior VP Sales and Marketing, Meridian Manufacturing Inc.

As a grower, you’re probably making plans to attend at least one trade/ag show in 2018. There’s a lot of them going on right now, and they’ll continue into the summer. I’ve been attending these for years, and I’ve learned that they can be valuable events to attend — if you approach them the right way.

In my experience talking to growers at these shows, I’ve learned to distinguish which growers get the most of out of these gatherings. Growers who really get the most out of their time (and admission fee) display the following characteristics:

They ask questions. One of the great things about these events is they offer a chance to learn. Don’t be afraid to approach someone at a booth and ask questions. That’s why we’re there! There are no dumb questions, either. Ask away!

They network! You’ll be surrounded by other growers — so don’t be afraid to get to know the people around you. If the opportunity presents itself, stop and talk to them. Shake hands, ask where they’re from, what their concerns are for 2018. It’s an opportunity to meet fascinating people who have a lot in common with you. And you might even make a friend.

They fill a bag with free information. One great thing about trade shows is the amount of literature and other free materials available. Fill your bag with whatever interests you, and with whatever you think might interest someone you know who couldn’t make the show. You may not think a particular piece of literature is useful at the time, but it could come in handy when you get back home and you’ll be glad you picked it up.

They have a good attitude. These shows are crowded, busy and noisy. People are everywhere. You may have to stand in a line. It’s all part of the experience, so take a deep breath and remember that everyone is there to learn, and while you’re in for a hectic time, you’re going to gain a lot from your time there.

Finally, they wear good footwear. Walking on a concrete floor or on hard, uneven ground for several hours is hard on the lower body. Make sure you wear comfortable, supportive shoes. Trust me — it makes all the difference and you’ll enjoy your time at the show, rather than hobbling around in pain!