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The garden and the network

I worked in the yard this past weekend. Truth be told, a well-manicured lawn and perfect landscaping hasn’t been a priority for many years. Combine five dogs and two growing businesses (up until 2009) with country living and no homeowners association to tell me weed whack and it got a little shaggy around the edges. I’ve learned; if you don’t’ get in control early in spring; forget it. The weeds win.

This year, I found a neighbor wanting to earn a little extra cash and willing to help get things under control. Looking at what he’s done, and what he’s inspired me to do, in the past six weeks, it appears the weeds may lose this year. (YAY!) Going through the process of trimming trees, cutting back overgrown gardens and weeding around neglected perennials made me think about how many times, when writing about networking, I say, “You have to nurture and cultivate your network.” Puttering about the yard brought to mind other career-long networking and gardening parallels.

Neglected doesn’t mean dead.
As we cut back weeds and thinned branches, I was struck by how many plants survived and even thrived on neglect. I was more amazed, how, after a little TLC, the previously neglected flora exploded into vigorous growth. These plants don’t need constant tending, but checking in occasionally will help them thrive.

While developing and expanding your personal and professional network, poke around. You’ll be surprised how many neglected relationships will spring back to life with a little attention. These relationships don’t need constant tending, but checking in occasionally will help them thrive. (Sound familiar?)

Forgotten doesn’t mean gone.
Digging around in a long-overgrown rose garden, my husband found our hippopotamus stepping stone. I’d forgotten about it. Horatio (doesn’t everyone name their stepping stones?) “lived” out in the field amongst the weeds forgotten, but still there. I was thrilled with our “find.” He now lives at the primary entrance to the house and makes me smile.

Digging around in old files, often uncovers past acquaintances; someone who might be wonderful support in your search or your career. Uncovering and reconnecting with forgotten pieces of your network is sure to make to you smile AND could be your stepping stone on the path to opportunity.

Sometimes gone is gone.
Surprised by what survived; I was still saddened by what I’d lost to neglect – antique irises, rosemary, rose bushes, a re-seeding bed of chives. They’re gone. I let them slip away. Best thing about a garden though, I can replant and start over how, when and if I choose.

The same holds true for networks. If you left network connections behind and attempts to revive are fruitless, know you can begin again with the next social media account, networking event or social gathering. Networks, like gardens change, grow, die down, come back with time. Cultivate accordingly.

Things change.
When my first husband and I moved here more than 20 years ago, getting up, gulping down a cup of coffee and spending weekends primping and pruning a huge yard (part of a 10-acre organic farm) was no big deal. This past weekend, after only a few hours of digging, weeding and hauling, I. thought. I. was. going. to. die. I adjusted my methodology, incorporated tools and accepted things change with time.

The tools available to job seekers and careerists today are different than they were a mere five years ago. Methodologies, markets and industry trends change. Assessing needs, adopting new technology and incorporating the old yields a deep and rich network. Successful gardeners and successful networkers adapt.

Now, pulling into a more cared for, nurtured yard is rewarding. It’s still a work in progress, but some input, some reconnecting, some attention is starting to transform things. Networking, when done correctly is a work in progress too. Add and cultivate network connections throughout your career. You never know who you can help or who can help you. In the end, the support and enjoyment far outweighs the effort. Oh, and don’t overlook the power of a partner in your quest.

Relax … networking, like gardening is really all about reconnecting with old friends.

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  1. Dawn,

    You speak my language (as a fellow gardener, and career pro)! What a beautiful post you’ve written as you, master storyteller, enchant us with the transformation of your garden, and how the same processes, tools, and lessons can help us grow and nurture meaningful relationships.

    Now, take a well-deserved break and enjoy your garden, while sipping a cool glass of lemonade…

  2. Me too! I saw Shahrzad’s tweet and had to follow and read. I am impressed with your narrative (and career related connections) and your hard work! I have yet to tame much of the yard this year, but then we only hit 72 degrees today compared to all the 32 degree days I have had most of the spring. The furnace has yet to be turned off permanently. So I will take my turn while you are drinking that lemonade in the shade!

  3. Dawn Lennon says:

    This is simply grand! What a perfect analogy, especially as I slog though May trying to beat the weeds at their own game. I love your point about things that survive and those that don’t, about the need have a plan and stick with it, and about mobilizing resources to keep things moving.

    Connecting the organic ways of nature to the nature of building and sustaing our network was just brilliant!

    Please give my best to Horatio and don’t forget that the hammock is lonely without you! ~Dawn

  4. The parallels you’ve drawn here illuminate the message wonderfully. Having just spent a long weekend with a friend I’ve not seen for ages, we’ve really re-connected. Not only have we caught up on news, but also both reflected on the dreams and ideas we shared all those years ago and the various ways in which we’ve followed them. Some of the intricacies have re-emerged and opened our minds to several things that we are now capable of tackling. Things that seemed out of reach before. Amitiés, Gee

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