Maximising the opportunities to network socially and professionally
An event akin to a wedding but in this case, you leave it in the dress as opposed to starting off. Amii McKeever speaks of the culmination of her role as ASA President

Apologies in advance but you are going to have to put up with one more week of wedding analogies. Unless you elope, there is a lot of planning and organising to a wedding, I don’t think anyone will argue with that.

The Annual Agricultural Science Association (ASA) banquet and conference takes place on Thursday and Friday of this week.

This is the culmination of my year as president of the ASA. Considering the level of organisation that has gone into this event I can only compare it to a second wedding.

This is a voluntary role, in support of graduates from the degree course that I studied. I compare it to a wedding as there are many similarities – there are speeches, a dress, food and wine to be picked, guests to be seated and politics to be dealt with.

We probably didn’t fully embrace the networking opportunity

The first ASA banquet and conference that I attended was in Kilkenny in 2004. It was in a small room in the Ormonde Hotel and my group of college friends and I, who had just recently graduated, ended up fully togged out in our black tie gear in Langtons nightclub later that evening.

We probably didn’t fully embrace the networking opportunity that the banquet element of this event provided back then. Maybe this was because we didn’t see it as that or maybe because we didn’t appreciate how valuable that network could be.

The opportunity to network and meet peers and hold open discussion outside the realms of the normal meeting points is important

In the 15 years that have passed, this event has grown considerably, surviving the recession when other networking events were scaled back. Sponsors are to be thanked for this and the strong support from the industry that attends. The opportunity to network and meet peers and hold open discussion outside the realms of the normal meeting points is important. This week Odile Evans talks about how “your network is your net worth” and gives us some hints and tips on how to maximise these opportunities.

The demise of social networks such as rural pubs and shops is something that concerns all of us living in rural Ireland

However, formal events are far from the only places to make contacts and meet people in our industry. Companionship and meeting people, aside from what can be beneficial for one’s own career, are very important – a local network. The demise of social networks such as rural pubs and shops is something that concerns all of us living in rural Ireland. In Irish Country Living, we focus our attention on initiatives that are ongoing to combat this. This week Mairead Lavery meets two ladies, Mary Dunphy and Maeve O’Hair, who have brought new life to the small village of Loughmore Co Tipperary through their social enterprise – The Cottage café and shop.

The Ploughing Championships undoubtedly provide a great opportunity for networking, debate and discussion as the industry is well represented there. Even a few of the retailers, about whom it could be said do not turn up for much, have a presence on the ploughing site.

Irish Country Living will be there and this year we are hosting the Country Lounge. Mary Fogarty will be in the lounge on Wednesday if you are interested in learning more about how the cottage in Loughmore was born. We have lots going on, which is detailed here, and please join us for the final of our singing competition at 4pm on Tuesday and Wednesday. We also would appreciate your feedback on the paper and what you would like to read more about so please come in and meet us in the Country Lounge next week in Carlow.

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