Building Your Connections Is Like Tilling Tomatoes

One day, while watering my garden I got to thinking how preparing and growing vegetables is similar to growing your connections in business. Sounds crazy but it’s an apt metaphor. Indulge me as I tell you about my recent horticultural endeavors to explain what I mean.

Three years ago I took up gardening as a hobby. I had had an itch to try it for a while, especially since my father, of Italian heritage, had worked in produce all his life. But I had never chosen to take the time, and it wasn’t until the spring of 2014 that I decided that time to sow my garden had come.

I ripped out the bushes in my backyard and tilled the dirt until it was ready to plant my vegetables. We bought our house as a brand new home 10 years ago and beneath the grass, the ground is made largely of clay. That didn’t leave much room for the seedlings to take hold and grow to their potential. But I wasn’t deterred and moved forward anyway.

I planted seeds and watered my garden daily. In time, I had tomatoes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, beans, and more. The plants didn’t produce much of a harvest but it was the experience and the learning that were important.

Over the following winter, I did some reading and investigated how to grow a bountiful garden. I built garden boxes 20 inches high. I removed the top soil from the old garden, and set the boxes in place. I shoveled the top soil back in. It was hardly enough to fill the containers, but it was enough to get started. Soon after, I took a trip to the county dump to get free compost to add to the boxes.

In the fall, I raked all the leaves together, mulched them, and dumped them in.  During the next winter, I gathered all my egg shells, coffee grinds, and other biodegradable food products and threw them into the boxes as well. I would even rinse out the blender from the smoothies I made and pour the residue in the garden to replenish any nutrients that were needed.

When spring arrived, I went to a friend’s farm and loaded 300 pounds of horse manure into the back of my truck. Once I arrived home, I dumped the manure in the boxes and mixed it with the new top soil I had bought at the home improvement store. I proceeded to till the soil and prepare it for the planting season.

In early May, it was time to plant. I planted tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and more. Within weeks, my tomato plants were 10 feet tall. My zucchini plants were enormous! My garden was exploding. Why was I so successful with my garden in year three?

The reason is obvious, right? I took the time to cultivate, nurture, and fertilize the garden over a four-month period. I got rid of the junk and replaced it with the good stuff, and the good stuff blossomed.

The same is true for building connections. To build a thriving database for your business, you have to nurture it. You have to fertilize and cultivate it if you want it to produce the same results you can get from your garden. Making regular contact with the people in my database is like watering my garden every day. I show it how much I care by tending to it each day.

Once a week, I get in the garden to pull out the weeds. I climb into my garden every couple of weeks and prune the plants. In doing so, I am giving more energy to the rest of the plants, giving them the opportunity to produce more.

Likewise, weeds have a tendency to grow in a contact list. By sorting and qualifying my database, I am giving the rest of my contacts energy. The more qualified and pruned my contact list is, the stronger it grows.

When I consistently stay in touch with my contacts, they produce a bountiful harvest. Yes, occasionally people fall away. They either forget about you, have a relative or a friend get in the business, or they develop a relationship with another agent. The key is to continue to stay in touch with my contacts and treat them like my garden.

There may be times when my garden produces so much of a harvest, I can’t consume it all. What do I do? I give some of it away. If you create critical mass in your contact list and it produces business to the point where you can’t handle it all, what can you do? You can give it away. The added bonus for me of giving away a referral in real estate is receiving a referral fee.

The success of your contact list is equal to the depth of the relationship you build with it. If you aren’t treating your contacts like a garden, change your mindset. A small shift in this mindset has the potential to produce extraordinary results.

And sometimes, the contact list becomes more than a database. You begin to build amazing friendships and acquaintances along the way and experience life at entirely different level where you can love, serve, and care.