Another lesson from the farm…

“Our relationships will eventually grow stale unless we are diligent about directing and cultivating them”

Todd Henry – International speaker

Having grown up on a rural property in north-western New South Wales, Australia, I have written several blogs about lessons we can learn as managers based on growing up on a farm. There were many things I observed and experienced that can be related to business and life. From resilience, the importance of ongoing maintenance like chipping a weed called the Bathurst Burrs and the lessons of ‘the cow pat’.

Another lesson comes to mind.

The growing of crops. One crop my father grew was wheat. Wheat needs constant cultivation combined with adding fertiliser and weed control to get the best outcome. The ground needs to be ploughed to remove weeds and make the soil friable and ready to accept the planting of seeds. When seeding, fertiliser needs to be added at the same time to improve yield. And you need rain!

The growing of wheat is a great analogy that can be applied to being a successful manager. Spend time cultivating your connections, fertilise your contacts, provide help when needed, keep the weeds under control by not losing contact and maintain your contacts by watering them.

This has worked for me over the long term with amazingly positive outcomes. Thirty years ago, a recruitment consultant placed me in a job. Over the years I kept contact with him and 5 years ago another opportunity came up. He found a logistics consulting project for me, and I’m still involved with the business as a board member.

Another example relates back to when I was a casual university lecturer. I kept in touch with several of my former students. This resulted in one former student giving an important contract to our logistics business. Another was employed by me for one of my clients and this was after over 15 years since graduating.

The example with the most impact was a former work colleague and student. He convinced me to do my master’s degree. Later he told me about a job vacancy with his former employer. Much later he provided the conduit to sell our logistics business to an Asian based freight forwarder.

What are the considerations with networking?

Most importantly when cultivating your network, it needs to be mutually beneficial but with more give than take. No long-term relationship whether personal or business will endure if it is only one way. Managing is not about platitudes, big schemes and projects. It is about constant attention to relationships, continually seeking ways to interact with your network regularly and adding value.

Do you think that the cultivation analogy is a good one for you as a manager or business owner, both personally or professionally?