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?

#thenetworkofconsultingprofessionals

Networking

Networking

“The successful networkers I know, the ones receiving tons of referrals and feeling truly happy about themselves, continually put the other person’s needs ahead of their own”

Bob Burg

A current business buzz word is “networking”. To be successful in your career or business, networking is considered a vital tool.

So what is networking and does it really work? I once attended a training course where networking was the topic. We were told that the way to network successfully was to attend an event and take 50 business cards with you, work the room handing out your business card and collecting the other person’s card, before moving onto the next person. Your success was gauged by how many business cards you collected. I was horrified at such an approach and argued that this would not work because it was all about what’s in it for them and offered nothing to others. I was derided by the presenter.

How would you react to such an approach?

Would the person handing out the cards ever consider your needs?

As the Bob Burg implies in his quote above, putting other people’s needs before yours will make you a more successful networker. Heiner Karst in his Let’s Talk Coaching blog on networking defines networking as “the building and maintaining of relationships that lead to opportunities for all parties. It works with the right attitude and is based on such “laws” as law of reciprocity or clichés like what goes around, comes around.

Here is a great networking example.

I have a friend I met whilst undertaking a course over 25 years ago. We kept in contact and bounced ideas off each other and this lead to:

• him joining a company I was working for at that time
• this lead in turn to him recommending I undertake further studies as he had done.
• he subsequently changed employment, which lead to the establishment of a new business where I became involved. His employer’s services were outsourced reducing their costs and improving their service levels.
• my further studies opened up the opportunity of casual post-graduate lecturing in Asia for an Australian university as well as a new full time career opportunity
• my friend was in Singapore and had several of his staff enrolled in the post graduate program.
• whilst this was occurring, the new business in which I was a major shareholder grew significantly
• last year we decided to sell the business. We contacted him in Hong Kong where he was residing and he recommended a buyer – this proved successful and they purchased the company
• he is now in contact with the business agent who assisted us selling our business and this is now leading to opportunities for both parties in Asia.

All this was achieved through maintaining a relationship, and looking after other’s needs, before your own and not burning bridges.

When I started up a new business there were several people in my consulting network who gave freely of their time and expertise to help me.
They put my needs ahead of their own and showed a genuine interest in my business. They have since been “repaid” as I have been able to engage them to work on some of my business projects – “what goes around comes around”.

Consider networking as helping others because they in turn, will help you.

So next time you wish to network, what will be your approach…………?