How to Grow Your People Farm

How to grow your business relationshipsHave you ever grown tomatoes? Or flowers? Even if you haven’t, I’m sure that you have some idea what gardening is all about. Take tomatoes. You wouldn’t expect to plant one day then harvest a perfectly ripe tomato the next morning. Or even in two weeks.

Chances are you are perfectly aware that you would need to spend more time to cultivate your tomatoes. You know because you read about it or you watched your parents grow tomatoes, or your friends talked about it. Or maybe you even saw it on the Discovery Channel.

In any case, knowing what to expect – you would plan in advance. Starting with a decision as to what variety of tomatoes you’d like to grow. The large and juicy ones, or the small berry types. Or any other type in between.

Then you would go to your local gardening center to buy seedlings. Or maybe you would order them from a catalog. Later you would plant your tomatoes in a carefully chosen, sunny part of the garden and water generously.

Two weeks would pass and you’d see no tomatoes. Would you quit? I don’t think so – you would know that it takes time. How would you know? Because you would follow in the steps of those who have grown tomatoes successfully. You would water, weed out, and fertilize. You would support the fragile plants with stakes, or special tomato cages. You would be quite patient for two, three, maybe even four months before planning to harvest your crop.

All of this applies to growing your relationships as well. I call it growing your people farm. Here are a few tips that will help you become successful in the people growing business:

Take inventory. You cannot grow a garden successfully if you don’t even know what is there. Create a database of your contacts and keep it current.

Weed-out. Let’s face it. Not everyone in your address book is a contact worth cultivation. Learn to recognize the beautiful flower that will bloom in the future and the weed.

Allocate funds. Just keeping in touch with people will cost you – money, stamps, notes, long distance phone calls, even small gifts. Building business through referrals is definitely less expensive than advertising, but it still requires some investments. Remember: even tomatoes need fertilizer.

Develop a plan of action. Just like a good farmer plans in advance when to plant, when to cultivate and when to finally expect a harvest – you should develop your own plan (I call it People Farm Almanac). It will prevent you from giving up too easily.
The bottom line: don’t expect your relationships with people to mature faster and with less effort than tomatoes!

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