Let’s leave the agriculture analogy for a while and go to back to the question of how does one cultivate a relationship?
Consider these following steps or actions:(They aren’t necessarily in the order that you would take. Relationship building can be more of a circuitous journey rather than a lineal one.)
- Research the individual. Check them out on Linkedin. Find out what their vocation and background is.
- Invite them out for coffee. Look for common interests.
- Be on the lookout for resource materials related to their interests and forward it on to them.
- Send them thank you notes or appropriate gifts to recognize help that they have provided to you.
- Send congratulatory messages e.g. cards/notes by snail mail or perhaps by e-mail for important milestones both personal and business. Seeing their name in the paper can be a great opportunity to drop them a note and congratulate them, assuming it wasn’t in Crime Stoppers or the Most Wanted List of course.
- If you are comfortable in doing so, send them business referrals. The law of reciprocity says that if you do something good for somebody else they in turn will do something good for you.
- Perhaps you have heard of the concept of “unconditional love?” To successfully cultivate a relationship you can’t put terms in place. Doing so could jeopardize the relationship.
- Don’t appear to be a stalker with your focused interest.
So far we have been looking atactivesteps that you can take. For a relationship to develop you have to be open to sharing of yourself. It can’t be a one way transaction. There has to be a payoff for you as well.
Getting back to that agricultural analogy of cultivating, sometimes you have to do some pruning to help strengthen your plantings. The same thing applies to your network. There will always be people that are suspicious of your motives or intentions. Perhaps this isn’t somebody that you want in your network.
There will also be people that once you get to know them, you find that you really don’t want to associate with them. It might be necessary to sever all ties with the individual. If you aren’t comfortable dealing with or relating to an individual you are unlikely to want to refer them to another connection. Their behaviour could have the undesirable affect of reflecting on you and your business.
An interesting side note mentioned in the Wikipedia article stated that apple trees grown from seed are rarely sweet or tasty, more on the sour side, which was apparently perfect for producing hard cider and applejack back in those days. Modern day orchardists plant strains of trees that consistently produce a fruit that is desirable and marketable. There is no use in providing all the labour in cultivating a crop if you aren’t able to realize a bountiful harvest.
So when it comes to business networking will you randomly toss out those seeds or will you take your time and cultivate a manageable amount of productive connections? Your choice … sweet or sour?
Top photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.