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Networking 101 – Networking Takes Time

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People are in such a hurry these days!  With the advent of the internet and computerized everything, instead of slowing down (because the machines do everything for us) we seem to have speeded up (to keep up with the machines I suspect) and everyone can be seen rushing around like mad things. Networking seems to have caught the bug too.

One of the major reasons that people don’t see Networking as a benefit is because they don’t get instant gratification.  They expect to write the big deal there and then.  Well people, let me tell you this – that is very unlikely to happen!

Let me tell you a story.  Those of you that know me, know that I come from farming stock.  Yes, that’s right – my parents were farmers and I grew up on a huge 10 000 acre farm in the now Zimbabwe.  We grew tobacco and maize and popcorn.

Spring for me, was one of the most exciting times on the farm.  The very tiny tobacco seeds were mixed with water and liquid fertiliser in big watering cans with oversized sprinklers (to let the seeds out of course) attached to their nozzles and the workers walked up and down the rows of the newly prepared beds watering the soil (but in effect sowing the seeds), in the long seedling tunnels that were protected from the elements.

Huge area’s of land were dug up with tractors dragging metal implements that cut rows of soil and workers walked behind with broomstick like poles that they pushed into the now soft soil with every pace that they took.  Workers walking  behind them dropped a single mielie pip or corn pip into the hole and workers behind them then covered the hole up, effectively planting the maize or corn that would become ‘pop corn’ as we know it.

Every morning I bounded out of bed long before the sun peeped over the horizon, and woke my father up as my excitement bubbled over – I could not wait to get to the fields or the seed tunnel to see if the tiny, tiny plants had pushed through the soil. I could hardly contain myself as my father ate his breakfast and drank his coffee and it seemed like hours before we were ready to leave for the fields.

Daily the workers tended the fields making sure that weeds were pulled and that the seeds were watered and that fertilizer was given to the soil in order to feed the newly forming plants and that the ‘bad’ bugs were kept at bay and the ‘good’ bugs were encouraged in order to keep the plants healthy and strong.

After what seemed like years, but in fact were mere days, the tiny plants peeped out of the soil and stood proud and every morning when we checked I could see that they had grown a little taller.  Still the workers tended the fields and the tunnel to ensure that the plants were watered and fed and day by day the plants grew a little taller and a little stronger.

When the tobacco plants were about 3 to 4 inches tall, in the tunnel it was time to transplant them into the fields.  They were carefully removed from the soil and once again, the tractors with the metal implements tilled the soil into long rows that the workers walked behind with their broomstick handle like poles that they pushed into the now soft soil with every pace that they took.  Workers walking behind them put a single tobacco plant in the hole and workers behind them secured the plant into the soil.  The plants were then hand watered every day that there wasn’t rain until they grew big enough and strong enough to withstand the water from the sprays.

On a daily basis the plants grew and the workers increased their efforts to keep the weeds and bugs at bay to assist the growth of the plants and ensure that they grew healthy and strong.  Some of the mielie and corn pips did not germinate and a few gaps here and there bore evidence to this fact.  Several of the transplanted tobacco seedlings did not survive their transplant and it was sad to see how they withered and died.  Nothing could be done about them though and we concentrated on the living plants, making sure that they grew strong and tall to maximize on their sale potential.

Why am I telling you all of this?  Interesting as it may be, what does it have to do with Networking?  Well it’s like this you see – a farmer who planted a seed today and expected to sell the produce of that seed today would be considered quite daft – I am sure you would agree.  Yet people who go to Networking meetings expect to reap those rewards on the same day.  That’s an unrealistic expectation too.

Building relationships with people, takes time and those relationships need to be tended and nurtured, just like the plants on the farm.  Taking the time and the trouble to build those relationships will result in an abundance of work coming in, as long as you understand it’s not a quick fix.  It’s not instant gratification.  It’s about building worthwhile, mutually gratifying relationships.