I’ve always been a voracious reader who enjoys getting lost in a good book, especially during frigid Ohio winters. As a teen, I enjoyed Chilean author Isabel Allende’s Spanish-language young adult books. When the opportunity arose to see her speak at the local library, I jumped at the chance. With a copy of one of my favorite Allende books in hand, I sat spellbound as she took the stage and wove a captivating narrative about her life, struggles and inspiration. I jotted notes in the margins of the program pamphlet, and still recall many of the things she said.

Afterward, I eagerly awaited my chance to meet her and get my book signed. Our meeting was brief, but full of meaning. Knowing the person behind the books made them seem more alive, and she is still one of my favorite authors today.

In-person interactions are greatly undervalued in today’s society, as it’s easier to send a text or email or comment on Instagram rather than visit someone in person. As editors, our face-to-face meetings with greenhouse growers like you may be limited to trade shows, conferences and the all-too-infrequent greenhouse visit.

Recently, I had the opportunity to support sister publication Garden Center in its inaugural Garden Center Executive Summit in downtown Denver. Reminiscent of the networking and business management-focused conferences of times past, the Executive Summit offered an intimate setting in which both fellow garden centers and experts from outside of the industry could connect and share their knowledge.

And connect, they did. As a “fly on the wall,” I floated in and out of rooms as needed, and was able to observe and interact throughout. I spoke with a few attendees who said that they knew fewer than half of the people in the room at the beginning. By the end of the conference, they had cultivated many new relationships and business contacts, and their conversations extended well past the scheduled sessions. As an added bonus, I met some of the folks I interviewed over the phone back in my Garden Center editorial days years ago, and reconnected with others. What a treat!

This month, I challenge you to turn one phone or email interaction into an opportunity to interact face to face with a colleague or client, whether it’s someone new or a trusted friend. The benefits far outweigh the extra effort.

Karen E. Varga, Editor
216-393-0290 | Twitter: @Karen_GIE