My vegetable garden has taught me something about building business relationships: different types of vegetables, like business connections, require different types of care and yield different results.
Consider two veggies* in my garden: radishes and tomatoes. Radishes are super-easy to grow. They sprout in a mere 2 – 3 days, are very hardy and are easy to harvest. Tomatoes, on the other hand, require much more maintenance: this delicate produce needs to be pruned, staked and checked for bugs and disease.
I love radishes for their ease, but find that they are a fairly limited vegetable when it comes to utility. They’re great for salads, but that’s about it. Then there are the tomatoes—they have so many more uses—canning, fresh salads, salsas, tomato sauces. I enjoy having both veggies in my garden because they both bring something to the table (literally!) that tantalizes my taste buds while promoting healthy eating.
When it comes to your business connections you may find “radishes” and “tomatoes” as well. As a business professional, it’s vital for you to nourish your business network. When doing so, failure to discern the different types of relationships leads to wasted effort or disappointment. So here’s a quick primer for you on tending your business garden:
Your “radish relationships” may sprout quickly and take little work to maintain. When you’re in a professional setting, your Radish Connections will consistently greet you with enthusiasm. This is always a confidence booster, especially if you’re on the shy side. They may also add a little spiciness to the conversation, which can be interesting. Just be sure that you don’t over-tend to these relationships because they rarely yield anything besides a cordial greeting or a chance connection to another business associate.
Even though your “tomato relationships” are more work, they also pay off more handsomely in the long run. Taking care to nurture Tomato Connections keeps those relationships from dying on the vine. You can do this by staying in touch on a consistent basis, not just when you are in need of something. Always be on the lookout for ways in which you can help your connections. It may be something as simple as offering up an article that you think they might enjoy.
Like a garden, business relationships offer their best yields when they’re properly tended. Even if you don’t have a green thumb with vegetables, you can certainly learn to cultivate flourishing professional connections using the Radish/Tomato analogy.
*Even though botanically speaking, a tomato is a fruit, I’m sticking with the term “vegetable” to keep this simple.