"Give a man a fish, feed him
for a day. Teach him to fish,
he'll eat for a lifetime."

Lao Tzu
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Planting the Seeds – How Networking is Like Gardening

A recent client of mine started his business and immediately got two viable leads.  I coached him on how to correspond back and forth to yield the best possible results but after a few interactions, he found himself at a standstill.  He asked me whether I thought he should e-mail back, lowering his price to secure the deal. I counseled him to instead focus his energy on alerting his entire list of contacts, preferably daily, to the services he provides, e-mailing relevant contacts to see if they can refer him to new business, and following up with his mentor to see if there were projects on which he could focus to fine tune his skill set.

On average, I send out 2-3 e-mails a day either connecting with people I’ve worked with in the past, inviting someone out to lunch whom I know has an active need, or e-mailing a follow up to a request for information I’ve received that hasn’t yet yielded results.  It sometimes takes as long as six months for these types of interactions to lead to actual business. 

Essentially, what had been happening with my client was that he had planted two seeds and was spending his days hovering over them, wondering if he was seeing the signs of growth. Is that a shoot? Should I give it some more water? Maybe I need to add some shade.  Do I need to use fertilizer? Is that a weed? I’d better pull it. Oh crap – was that a weed I just pulled? I’d better put it back. Get my drift?

If you give too much attention to your seedlings, you can actually do more harm than good.

If, on the other hand, you spread seeds all over your garden and tend to them all carefully and consistently – a call or e-mail to check in every couple of weeks, a card at Christmas, an invitation to lunch – before you know it, you’ll see little seedlings sprouting up all over the place. You’ll know immediately which ones are worth watering and which ones are never going to bear fruit. 

Before you know it, you’ll have a lush, thriving garden of clients, at varying stages of readiness, with your only role will be to continue to tend to their ongoing needs.

Are You Planning for Success?

You’ve heard the old adage, “Fail to plan and you plan to fail.” This applies to training, as with everything else. One of the best ways to ensure your organization's success is to arm yourself with an effective training plan. That is because a training plan provides you with the blueprint for your training programs, ensuring that they are designed for maximum effectiveness and impact to your organizational goals and business bottom line.

Don’t confuse a training plan with a training design document. The training plan should provide the highest-level strategy for your program, including the delivery method (e.g., instructor-led or eLearning), course objectives, how skill improvement will be measured, and how and when the course will be rolled out to employees.

Before you hire someone to help you develop your training plan, you should first consider having them perform a comprehensive curriculum analysis. A curriculum analysis is like an inventory of the training you currently offer to employees. The same way you wouldn’t pick up shampoo and conditioner without first checking that you don’t have any in the closet, a thorough curriculum analysis will ensure that you leverage any existing training before you make the decision to develop a new program from scratch.

Once you’ve determined that you need a new program, or a significant enhancement to an existing program, hire experienced training professionals to walk you through the process of inventorying your current status and then building your training plan.  Many companies make the mistake of trying to develop this plan on their own and without the help of someone experienced in the process. But when you are too close to the subject matter one often makes assumptions or neglects to ask important questions that can expose critical risks that, without proper mitigation, could ultimately stand in the way of your ultimate goal – successfully transferring the appropriate knowledge and skills to everyone within your organization impacted by the relevant changes.

To find out more information and view a sample training plan, send us an e-mail at info@lsmconsulting.net

As you plan for 2017, you need to make sure you are availing yourself of all the resources the Internet has to offer. LinkedIn gives you access not only to the people within your network, but to all the people your contacts are connected to, as well.  You can advertise for the resources you need, or broadcast your own strengths to prospective employers.  For a list of the top ten reasons to get LinkedIn, send an e-mail with the subject, "I want to get LinkedIn" to
info@lsmconsulting.net. Or, to link up with LSM Consulting, click here.
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