Show up for education

One set of business development tools for landscape professionals that sometimes get overlooked is irrigation industry trade shows.
A graphic with a mortar board at the center reflecting education

While late fall is typically the end of our irrigation season in much of North America, it is also the time to start thinking about planning for next year’s success. One set of business development tools that sometimes get overlooked or maybe aren’t maximized are our industry trade shows. While the role of trade shows might have changed in the last few years, they still offer amazing opportunities for learning, networking and sometimes some well-needed relaxation.

Most of our industry shows and events have participation from manufacturers, distributors and business solution providers. Being able to see, touch and test what products are out there is invaluable to many of us, especially as technology continues to accelerate. Recently, the Equip Expo (formerly GIE+Expo) was held in Louisville, Kentucky. This event is an absolutely mind-boggling showcase of anything and everything related to the green industry. The presence of the landscape irrigation industry has grown dramatically with many manufacturers and suppliers present. The Irrigation Association offered education classes, and there were many business training sessions. This event is largely directed at contractors and there were numerous opportunities to network throughout the week. In addition to a bunch of entertainment options associated with the show in the evenings, Louisville was a great place to be for the week.

This is the most irrigation-focused event in our industry every year and is something every industry professional should check out at least once.

The Irrigation Show and Education Week is Dec. 5-9 in Las Vegas. This is the most irrigation-focused event in our industry every year and is something every industry professional should check out at least once. There are many courses offered during the week through IA University, certification exams, Industry Insights sessions (covering current, relevant topics), the popular new product contest and the trade show, which is also co-located with Groundwater Week.

So, how do you make the most of these events?

First – commit. We’re all busy and can always find other things to do with our time (like work). Recognizing the opportunities at these events and carving time in your schedule, whether it’s every year or three is the first step. I remember what a struggle it was for me to decide to attend my first Irrigation Show in Nashville in the 1990s. But I still use what I learned at that time and have relationships that began then, today.

It is well worth the time to plan. Start with a list of what you want to accomplish or better yet, what problems you want to solve. I know many show up and roll with it, but having some goals will definitely help you get more out of the time. Go through the courses and sessions and add them to a calendar. Most major shows have apps that make this and optimizing the show easier. Review the exhibitor list and make sure to visit exhibitors beyond the ones that you are most familiar. Approach these events with a very open mind. Take advantage of planned networking events. Many shows offer events that are targeted to get people with similar interests together. For me, one of the most rewarding aspects of these shows are the many lifelong relationships that are created.

And remember to leave enough time to kick back and have fun. Many exhibitors will sponsor receptions or networking events outside of the show. Most cities selected for conferences will always have some local attractions that are worth checking out.

Remember, the first step is to commit. I hope to see you at the Irrigation Show.

Christopher Pine, CLWM, CID, CIC, CLIA, CIT, MCLP, is a principal of IrriTech Training and the president of BluGreen Solutions in Pocasset, Massachusetts. He can be reached via email.

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