I look out the window at our vegetable garden. From here I can see a single tomato starting to ripen. It’s October and this is the only real tomato that we’ve seen this year (those cherry tomatoes don’t really count). I remember past years when that garden would produce a counter full of vegetables, especially tomatoes. We had so much produce that there was just no way we could use it all. We would often end up passing along the excess to friends and family.

This time it wasn’t us. We put in the work to prepare the soil and plant the seeds and seedlings. We staked and nurtured the growing plants. The problem is that the environment has changed. The mature trees have grown larger each year, blocking out the sun more and more until now the short time it smiles on the garden isn’t sufficient to bring forth any produce.

It looks like we just can’t count on this particular garden to produce vegetables anymore. We can use the space for a shade-loving perennial bed, but if we want produce, we are going to have to look elsewhere. It will be hard to put in all of the initial work needed to make a great vegetable garden, but in the end it will be worth it again.

Or we can look at it in a different way.

Looking back on your membership in your networking group over the last year, you realize that you’ve only received one halfway successful referral. The ones you once received (with the exception of little things that almost aren’t worth the effort) have really started to dry up. You are still participating in the group, making the effort to meet new people and develop the relationships, but the group itself has changed and, for whatever reason, it just isn’t as productive anymore. It’s a shame, too, since you once received so many referrals that you couldn’t keep up with the work and had to farm out the opportunities to other folks in your network.

Oh, you’ll still have a soft spot in your heart for the group and you will probably continue to attend the occasional meeting. Now, though, you’ll be treating it as more of a social group than a real networking opportunity. It will require less effort and should continue to work as such despite the change in the culture.

For your referrals, though, you are going to have to look for a new group. It will be hard having to establish yourself as a strong member of the new group, but the effort will pay off in the long run.

Sometimes in networking, as in gardening, despite all our efforts, the venue that once produced in abundance changes and now produces only sporadically or not at all. When that happens, we sometimes just have to have the strength to cultivate a new area and let the old one transform into something more suited to its nature. If that describes you, it’s time to pick up the shovel and get busy.

Photo credit: stockxchng user jarsem