This weekend as I stood at the kitchen sink coring and cutting tomatoes for the beginning of a huge pot of tomato sauce, I had the surreal experience of listening to author Barbara Kingsolver's "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle; A Year of Good Food." The premise of the book is that Kingsolver and her family decided to live for one year from food grown locally. As she talked about how many people don't know or understand how our food is produced, she began describing her asparagus patch and how most people ask, "What kind of ferns are those?"
Like Kingsolver, I feel very lucky to be able to grow some of our food. I too, have an asparagus patch, along with a fairly good-sized garden. As we move toward the end of the season, I have lots of peppers, giant eggplant, basil, beets and very soon, I'll pick the first butternut squash.
But this isn't about gardening.
After all, this blog is about networking!
I realized that we business people tend to think about networking from the "getting more business" point of view. But as my mind doodled, it occured to me that we also learn stuff, that at the moment doesn't seem important. But it adds to our knowledge that might be helpful to us or to someone else in the future.
As a little kid, my parent's garden was nothing more than a place to filch a sweet strawberry or perhaps a carrot with the dirt wiped off on my pant leg. In the fall the old cornstalks were bent over and between the two rows I created a cave/fort of sorts. Little did I know that I was learning the rhythm of the growing season. Little did I know that I was learning how all things grow, whether underground, from bushes or from vines.
That's what I think networking should be like, too. Learn a little something everyday that you didn't know before. What makes that industry tick? Where do the raw materials come from? What trends are affecting it. What is produced? Most of us only know the ins and outs of our own industry.
I challenge you to find out something about another industry this week as you are out there networking.
And by the way, what is surprising about yours?