A metaphor that is commonly used in books and articles about networking, is that of the farm. It is the analogy of farming in contrast to hunting. Where networking is like farming and hard selling is like hunting. Stephen Covey uses another analogy in “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. He talks about Products and Production Capability.
Let’s see how the concept of the farm and that of Covey apply to networking.
Back in prehistoric days, people went out to hunt animals in order to have some food. Every time they killed for example a chicken, they had immediate food (product), but they were also obliged to go hunting the next day because they also killed a “production capability” for eggs. This is short term thinking.
Later on our ancestors built farms where they grew crops and kept animals, not (only) for their meat, but for other products like eggs, milk or for breeding more animals. These small investments brought security and a higher level of prosperity. The investments didn’t always guarantee a return. Diseases, floods, earthquakes and other tricks of nature caused many troubles. But by diversifying and looking at long term results and by knowing the power of the seasons, farmers benefited.
A farmer knows that he can’t expect to harvest in autumn when he didn’t sow in spring. But he also knows that when he sows many of those little seeds, the odds for a bigger harvest are much higher. So what does he do? In spring he sows, in summer he nurtures and in autumn he reaps. And does he stop there? No, he prepares for the next year. He doesn’t consume all corn, he keeps some of the seeds so they can be sown the next year.
It is the same with networking. You never know when and how things are going to come to you. But they will. The more seeds you plant, the higher the profits of your networking efforts. The better you nurture your relationships, the more willing they will be to help you benefit. And last but not least, if your contacts with your network are good, you can always ask them for more “networking seeds”. Meaning that you can always ask them for introductions and referrals.
Have a great networking day!
PS: this is an excerpt from my book “Let’s Connect!” (www.letsconnect.be)