We humans are supposedly the smartest of all the animals. And yet, we do some pretty ironic and silly things. Ever notice this?
Here’s an example – maybe not directly related to how people connect, but you may see the metaphor.
I have neighbors (lovely people, by the way) who have put a lot of time, money, and effort into landscaping their front yard. I’m guessing their vision was to make their property more attractive and appealing. They’ve installed trees, shrubs, and flowers that are, without question, very beautiful. Problem is, we live in a neighborhood that hosts a variety of wildlife. These creatures, especially the deer, view most landscaping as their lavish dinner buffet.
Not that I’m a Ms. Know-It-All about gardening or animal behavior or anything. But years ago I gave up planting anything the deer found appealing. Call me lazy – or even a quitter. I just decided that planting my Dream Garden and then waking up the next morning to discover the deer had devoured everything was just too heartbreaking (and ridiculous) to endure year after year. What’s more, a little research revealed there are plenty of attractive plants the deer won’t touch. Many of these “deer-proof” species are perennials (they come back every spring). They also tolerate (and in some cases thrive in) the hot, dry Texas summers. A few even attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Bingo! Those are the plants for me!
But back to my neighbors…
Given the deer really love what they’ve planted, these tenacious folks decided to get really strategic. They installed an elaborate configuration of netting, industrial-looking fence posts, and electrically-charged wires around their front yard. Okay. Sure. It’s probably an effective deer deterrent, but it’s not very attractive. The front yard of their home now looks like that of a penitentiary or top secret espionage headquarters. And did I mention that my dog Maggie made the mistake one day of getting too close to one of the charged wires while doing her routine sniffing? Zap! She’s never going to forget that experience! And neither will I.
Very unfriendly. And ironic.
These well-meaning people who meant to have a beautiful, welcoming front yard are now sending these messages: “Warning!” “Danger!” “Keep out!” Maybe even “We love plants, but hate Nature.”
On this morning’s walk (which goes past this yard) I saw the parallels for what can sometimes happen as we try to network, connect, and attract customers. We put a lot of elaborate (perhaps even misguided) effort into what we think will make ourselves more attractive and appealing. Then, because we’re trying a little too hard (and may not know best practices), we end up repelling the very people we hope to attract.
Yep, we humans are so darn smart. And yet we can sometimes overthink (yet under prepare or not do our research), and blow some really good opportunities.
I know I’ve been guilty of this. How about you? It would be interesting (and helpful) to be more aware and observant of the many things we “smart” humans do that end up backfiring and sending others running.
Can you think of an example from your own life? Let’s hear it!
In the meantime, there’s some really helpful material in my book The Intentional Networker that could be helpful to you. “Chapter 6: Build Connections – Cultivating Your Most Valuable Relationships” comes to mind. Don’t have a copy? If you’re in Austin, BookPeople carries it. Otherwise it’s available with most online booksellers.