Right after college I went to work for a major turkey company and spent over ten years working in the turkey breeder business. If you have ever been involved with a large-scale livestock operation, especially breeders, biosecurity is a number one priority. Exposure to anything harmful could mean lower production or even loss of the whole flock or herd. So each day I would shower in and spend the majority of the day on that farm unless I needed to visit another, then I would go through showering process to leave the farm and shower into another. Over the years, I realized that I would only interact with 15-20 people on a weekly basis. I have always been a people person. In college I could be seen moving from one group of friends to another just to catch up and see what was going on. My wife calls me a social butterfly and I do enjoy meeting new people. So over the years this limited interaction became a very difficult part of my job. After thinking long and hard about it and with much prayer, I decided to leave a company and an industry I had spent over ten years with and pursue something new.
Jumping into the job market and changing from livestock management to agronomy and sales was not an easy goal. It became apparently difficult to make a job change when much of this is accomplished through networking and building relationships. This was before the days of LinkedIn. My limited exposure over the past ten years proved I had not done a very good job of building relationship and selling myself beyond the 15-20 people I saw on a regular basis. To the recruiter and many of those who were looking to fill positions resulted in the same question: “Who is Dave Myers and what does he have to offer my company?” My first sale was communicating with these new companies that my management experience did translate to sales. Eventually the networking and exposure paid off and I’ve been much happier in my people-related position.
As a grower, have you fallen into the same trap I did? Who are you networking with during planting and harvest season? What about when the weather is nice and you’re fixing tile or baling hay? Who do you interact with on a routine basis: your family, your employees, your venders, etc.? Is it easy to get focused on the day-to-day duties and not concentrate on growth. What I determined from my struggle with changing careers was not that I lacked knowledge, experience, or even skills to accomplish the job. What I lacked was exposure, trying to place myself in front of the right people at the right time.
Expansion marketing can play a key role in giving you the exposure you need to grow your farm at the right time when you are busy doing what you do best, managing your farming operation. Social media has become a great way of networking with peers and industry groups or even about landowners. In what ways are you able to give yourself some exposure to a group of people who own and rent their land? Many landowners don’t realize the options they have when it comes to tenants they can work with and lease agreements that they can entertain. It is all about exposure. If you are not signed up on our website and getting weekly e-mail notifications from us, make sure to do so within the next week. If you are, good for you. You will be the first to have access to the site, get started and create some exposure to the landowners you are wanting to pursue.
How helpful would it be to start the Bird Dog process while you are busy getting the crop planted? It could mean planting a few more acres next year.