Seed World

How to Turn a Great Conference into Real Business Opportunities

Gro Alliance

A third-generation seedsman, Jim Schweigert grew up in the family seed business and was exposed to industry issues at an early age. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in public relations from the University of Minnesota and worked for corporate public relations firms in Minneapolis, Chicago and Atlanta before joining the family business full time in 2003. He has since been active in the American Seed Trade Association, the Independent Professional Seed Association and earned his master’s in seed technology and business from Iowa State University. As president, Schweigert manages client contracts and crop planning, as well as business development and new market opportunities. His unique background and experience make him one of the seed industry’s leaders in innovation. As such, he was honored as Seed World’s 2009 Future Giant and currently serves as chair of the board of directors for Seed Programs International.

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Congrats! You just finished a week jam-packed with dozens of meetings, incredible dinners and the excitement of generating new contacts that can help take your company to the next level! 

And then … the day-to-day hits. Your email inbox is overflowing, your direct reports are lined up outside your office, your customers are looking for updates and it seems like everyone needs “just five minutes” of your time. 

All the forward-looking conversations you had at the conference are about to be buried in the sands of time as the pressure of your daily tasks overwhelms your schedule. This happens too often, and I’ve been guilty of it too. But, I’ve developed a few tips on how you can keep the momentum from a great conference rolling while you dig out from a week out of the office.

Connect on LinkedIn

I still carry and collect business cards for the sole purpose of making sure I connect with that person on LinkedIn. I connect either immediately after meeting someone or right when I get home. You can easily include a note about your interaction in the connection request and it reinforces the new face-to-face interaction you just had. They are likely to accept, will see all your future posts and you’ll have a way to contact them even if they change jobs.

Replay Every Meeting in Your Head and Re-take Notes

This has been an interesting exercise for me. It can be hard to take good notes if you are leading a conversation or there is a lot of crosstalk in a group meeting. Replaying that meeting and taking new notes allows me to slow down the conversation and recall the most important points for follow up. This process has also allowed me to get better at taking good notes during meetings. I keep them short and focus on items that need follow up, more so than interesting facts.

Send an Email Within a Week

Quick follow up is key. The person(s) you met are just as busy as you after the meeting. If you wait longer than a week to follow up, they’ll likely forget about the content of the discussions. Connecting with them on email soon afterward gives you the best opportunity to keep the conversation going.

The tactics above won’t reduce the workload waiting for you back at the office, but it will improve your chances of turning a productive meeting into meaningful connections and future business opportunities.