A story of a farmer and his seed.
A farmer went out to sow his seed. The seed was good. Along the way, he got distracted by the other farmers in the area that said his seed would not grow. “Don’t plant. It doesn’t work. How do we know? We tried it. It didn’t work.” After spending some time with his discouraged friends, he realized that his equipment needed a little work, so he worked on his tools for a while. Then it dawned on him that he hadn’t yet thought about the best way to plant his seed, so he went home and thought about all the ways he could plant seed. He wondered what worked and what didn’t. After thinking about this for a while, he remembered that he had some things to do around the house and there were kids to pick up from school, and there was football practice.
No seed planted today. Maybe tomorrow.
The next day, he avoided all the distractions, and actually planted some seed. As he was planting, he noticed that the ground was not prepared. He had forgotten to prepare the soil for planting. So, he worked a good long day on that.
Still focused, the next day he fully intended on planting that seed, but he remembered that he had some corn in another field that was about to go bad. So, he spent the whole day harvesting corn. The only problem was that it was quite puny and it was barely enough to get by on.
Things pretty much went like this for months. He planted a few seed here and there. A plant or two came up, but nothing to really write home about.
Still no crop.
What did this farmer do wrong? What were his mistakes? They are many. First, he got distracted by all kinds of activities. His seed was not the best seed around. The soil was the wrong soil. He forgot to nurture the little bit of crop he had.
This farmer is much like a lot of small business owners. We are expecting to get a good crop without consisting planting good seed in good soil.
Seeds = Leads. How many do you need?
When it comes to marketing your business, the seed is your message. Your story. Your sales presentation. Your ad. Whatever. The soil is the audience. The prospect. Those who need your service (or know people who do). There are only two ways to get seed in the ground. One, pay someone else to plant the seed for you. Pay for advertising, or pay someone to go out and “sell” for you. Second, plant the seed yourself. The fact is that if you aren’t getting enough leads, you aren’t planting enough seed, or you’re planting in the wrong soil!
Some people plant the wrong seed (they don’t have the right message), but those who do have a good message simply get it out to enough people.
When it comes to networking, you have to make a LOT of contacts in the beginning. Most small business owners assume (and you know what that means) that they are planting enough seed. I bet they aren’t.
First, you have to determine how many new customers (sprouts) you need. Then you have to make some kind of assumption on how many seeds you need to plant. My good friend Ellen Rohr asked in a seminar she was presenting to my members “why did God put so many seeds in a watermelon?”. The answer: Because they don’t all make it. You don’t know how many are going to make it, so if you need a whole patch of watermelon to thrive, you better plant a lot of seed. So, plant more than you think you will need.
I think small business owners dramatically underestimate how many seeds they need to plant.
Now, I know that it can be a challenge to do a lot of networking while you are still doing the “work of the business”, however, overcoming this challenge is the key to success in networking.
When I was working out of the trunk of my car, a typical day would start with a breakfast group meeting. Then on to my first job or consultation. Perhaps I had a lunch group that day, and maybe even a Chamber of Commerce event that evening. And if I didn’t have a cleaning job or a networking group to go to, I was walking in and out of front doors all day long.
I was constantly on my cell phone calling people to see “how we can help each other”. Back then there were no “unlimited calling plans”. In fact, I had one of those “brick” phones from radio shack. It came with a Rambo style strap with extra batteries that were bigger and heavier than most cell phones are today. And my bill was $1500.00 per month! Plus, I spent a ton of money on networking groups, donuts, meals, and more. But guess what? My business grew by leaps and bounds.
HOWARD’S RULE: “When you aren’t doing production, you’re selling!
I always had my “networking clothes” with me. I could do a quick Superman change in a hotel bathroom or at McDonalds. Yes, that was a big hassle, especially when the Houston heat index tops 100+ degrees and the humidity is 90%!
There’s an old saying that says “Successful people are willing to DO what unsuccessful people aren’t willing to do.” Not that they can’t, just that they won’t.