This event , which took place on February 9, was a dual networking and learning opportunity facilitated by North Central Chapter of the National Agri-Marketing Association and CFANS Alumni Relations. It was set up as a series of roundtable discussions that were kicked off with an informational presentation. Each table was staffed by business professionals and University of Minnesota Alumni.
Students from CFANS were invited to come and join in mutual learning about marketing in today’s agricultural industry. The main topic was how to interact with, and promote the skills of, a millennial. Today’s industry is facing a huge change; it is seeing the structural mindset switch from the interactive face-to-face and “Good ‘Ol Boy” way to an aggressively technological interface. While creating relationships and fostering the construction of strong metaphorical bridges is still imperative to furthering the existence of a company, the method in which salespeople and companies go about facilitating this process is undergoing change at an unprecedented rate.
The kickoff presentation discussed a young man’s journey from graduating college (UMN), to his first job, and how it propelled him into his current career. Drawing on his experiences he was able to portray the importance of understanding the market and learning to communicate with multi-generational farms. Balancing the barriers between grandparents, parents, and children can pose a significant problem, but taking the time to cater information to each generation is the key. Knowing what the customer values and changing the sales style and language appropriately can spell the difference between closing a new sale and going back to the truck empty handed.
Each roundtable was geared towards a different objective and every student was allowed to visit three tables in the allotted time. The tables ranged from how to spruce up your resume, how to land the perfect internship, getting rid of first job jitters, to what commodity marketing is. Through these intellectual conversations, students were able to gain insight into the job market and foster networking connections for the “real world”. Once the table discussions ended, an open networking time followed. Many students went back to tables they had visited and followed-up on information they had learned, while others attempted to make new connections.
Everyone was friendly and welcoming, but even more than that, they wanted to be there. It is a fascinating sight watching enthusiastic young students absorb every tidbit of information they can from everyone around them, and watch the excitement in the eyes of those who were there to pass on their knowledge. Young and old learning from each other, making connections and furthering their dreams. That is what it is all about.
Make sure to sign up and attend the next event to get a jumpstart on networking for your career. The Ag world is much smaller than you might think.