“Experience is the teacher of all things.”
~ Julius Caesar
The crabapple tree is going crazy this year. It started producing fruit early and with gleeful abandon. That means that I’ve been jelly making — a lot. I just finished my 70th pint jar for the season and I still have close to a bushel of fruit in the garage and more falling from the tree constantly.
Seriously. One hit me on the head the other day.
I think back to that first batch of jelly I made two seasons ago. I looked on the Web and found a recipe that seemed pretty simple. Following that plan, I collected my crabapples and sorted through them to find the best. I cleaned, stemmed, and seeded each little berry. I boiled them and then let them hang for a day in cheesecloth to get the juices out. I strained the juices and boiled them with sugar to create the jelly.
Then I rushed the final process and after all that work, ended up with 4 jars of crabapple syrup — not bad on ice cream, but it made a very messy PBJ sandwich.
After doing a little more study and trying out different techniques over the past couple of seasons, my process is a lot simpler, takes much less time, and (knock on wood) I haven’t had a single failed batch this year. Experience was the ingredient I was missing when I started out.
So what does that have to do with networking?
When I started networking, twenty years ago, I had this (unrealistic) picture of how it was supposed to work. I don’t know where I got it, but I thought the whole point was to show up at the local Chamber of Commerce and get business. I used techniques I had heard about or read about. I handed out cards to everyone. I gave some people two or three. I tried to connect with those who should buy from me. I put a lot of work into the process and then often rushed the relationship — damaging it in the process. The results weren’t even good on ice cream.
Over time I’ve had great teachers, both in person and through audio programs and books. I’ve learned better techniques and a better mindset. My networking practice is a lot simpler now and takes up a lot less of my time. It also produces the results I need.
The difference? Just as with my jelly-making: Experience.
So read the networking blogs, take the classes, listen to the podcasts and audio programs. Then go out and try it for yourself. And if it doesn’t work out, remember there’s always ice cream.