The analogy between gardening and growing client relationships is an obvious one. Here's an example of how it can go wrong.
The sad looking picture to the right is of my onion seedlings. You may just be able to pick out tiny flecks of green amongst the vermiculite. But there's not much left.
I like gardening. And the two things I grow the most are chile plants (because I love chillies) and onions (which I hate).
I grow onions out of a sense of duty, and a bit of obsession. Back in the North East of England where I'm from (and particularly in Ashington), onion growing is a big thing. Growing big onions (really, really big onions) is a source of huge pride amongst men. The World Leek and Onion Growing Championships were held in Ashington for 28 years with the heaviest onion regularly weighing in at over 14 pounds.
As someone who grew up there, but moved away, I feel that i ought to keep up a little bit of tradition.
So every year, I buy seeds of either Kelsae or Robinson's Giant onions. And I plant them very carefully in the best growing medium. And I keep them heated in a propagator in a greenhouse at just the right temperature. And I use artificial lights to augment the daylight to make sure they get all the sunlight they need. And I keep them perfectly watered with water kept at the same temperature as the seedlings so as not to shock them.
But this year, I just plain forgot them for a week.
It was freezing outside, and I had a ton of work on my plate and a load of things to think about.
So when I went to check up on them earlier today, most of the seedlings had withered and died.
All my perfect preparation, the ideal conditions, my fancy equipment: all counted for nothing. They had no water – so they died.
And so it is when you're nurturing client relationships.
It doesn't matter how well you start the relationship. It doesn't matter if you give it the perfect conditions early on. It doesn't matter if you took them out to the fanciest restaurant or sent them the most insightful article ever. If you leave the relationship too long without “watering it” – it'll die.
And I'll now have to beg for a bunch of seedlings from my uncle who still lives in Ashington, and who will no-doubt gloat at my idiocy.
So how about you? Have you got a gardening-related client relationship or business development story? Post it in the comment box below. Thanks!