Are You Making Premature Withdrawals from Your Relationship Accounts?

Are You Making Premature Withdrawals from Your Relationship Accounts?

Are You Making Premature Withdrawals from Your Relationship Accounts? by Cynthia Greenawalt

{4:02 minutes to read} Using a farming analogy, there are three stages before a harvest is ready: planting, fertilizing, and fruit bearing. In terms of networking relationships, the three stages are Know You, Like You, Trust You. It’s in Stage 3 – Trust You – that we can expect a return from these relationships in the form of referrals, favorable introductions, or favors (e.g., supporting our non-profit cause).

Until a networking relationship is in Stage 3, it is our responsibility and duty to be the farmer who waters and nurtures that relationship. Before we promote ourselves and bring our needs into the equation, the focus is always on the other person.

Recently, an attendee at one of my workshops had the courage to say, “I can now see that rather than building relationships by making deposits, I’ve been the creepy hunter who’s been making premature withdrawals.” It was an amazing ‘a-ha’ for her to have. Most people are, by default, in hunter mode when networking. They go to a chamber event or their referral group meeting and look at the people in the room as their potential end user. Seeing the people we meet through networking as our potential customer, client, or end user is how I define a hunter networker.

In contrast, the farmer networker thinks, “I see the fruit that’s possible from this relationship, yet I’m going to schedule that harvest 12 months into the future.” They don’t assume that the person is going to be ready to make an introduction or become their client until sometime in the future. In most cases, the “yield” is several months after the farmer networker reliably nurtures and cultivates a relationship.

So when we ask for a referral or a key introduction from someone we’ve only moved to the Know You or Like You stage, we are taking a premature withdrawal. And the effect can be as drastic as the other person permanently removing us from their funnel. We show up as being “out of touch,” “self-absorbed,” and “unconscious” to the sensitive nature of referral partnerships based in trust and respect.

My life work is based in the art of moving relationships to the fruit-bearing Trust You stage. At the core is creating meaningful — even magical — relationships where we focus on bringing value to the other person. What works is to tune into what is already important to them and then act as a catalyst. The burden is on us to show our value. And we can do this by making introductions, sending them articles that tie into their interests, inviting them to events that connect them to the right people, and dozens more “fertilizer strategies” for accelerating the fruit-bearing stage of relationships.

You can’t cultivate and fertilize every relationship in your garden, so you want to focus your “farming efforts” by determining which relationships have the greatest potential for yield. One of my favorite tools is having my clients ask this question: Which colleagues have their foot in the very door I want to enter? In addition to having high potential “return on investment,” you also want to be sure to pick those people whose values and presence in your life have an empowering effect on you. While you’re giving (and not yet seeing much fruit), it still “feeds” you to be around them and bring value to them if who they are inspires you.

It’s actually a really fun game to play. One of my mastery workshop alumni (we’ll call him Dan) called me recently to celebrate a major breakthrough. He was having coffee with someone from his networking group and took on playing the game of making it all about the other person. For the first 50 minutes, he didn’t talk about his business once and focused the conversation on the man from his networking group. Ten minutes before that coffee meeting was ending, the other person realized Dan hadn’t said a word about himself or his business.

My client, still playing the game, explained: “It’s more important to me to find out how I can help you than talk about my business.” The man then said he and his wife had been discussing Dan’s services and wanted to get things set up to come on board with Dan. All my client did was show genuine interest (which is a huge deposit) and put no attention on making a withdrawal.

Networking truly flourishes when we follow the old adage: People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. I invite you to play the game. Shine the light on the other person. Spend time intentionally cultivating the potential fruit-bearing relationships in your garden. If those people are indeed good people, they’ll recognize the need for balance and feel compelled to celebrate your value. And they’ll do so by reciprocating, thus giving rise to a mutually beneficial, Trust You stage relationship.

Cynthia Greenawalt
Cynthia Greenawalt

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