By Susan Hatten | Account executive, Holmes Murphy

When asked to offer one of the greatest quotes of inspiration that have guided my career, I oftentimes reply, "Never underestimate the value of planting a seed."

Planting seeds takes discipline; mindful research, careful plotting, and diligent nurturing a strong foundation of trust to ultimately one day bear fruit.

This agrarian relationship-building technique is not for the faint of heart, as there certainly are no predictors as to when your seeds will begin to flourish or provide a hearty harvest. On the contrary, the more seeds you plant – theoretically, the greater the return.

Several weeks ago I had the honor of taking part in the Metro-Wide Mentoring eventfor women hosted by our Greater Des Moines area Chambers of Commerce. The event was a speed-networking concept, where women (and men) would have an opportunity to learn about various professional and personal topics pertaining to business, career, leadership and life.

I focused on the development of a personal board of directors and how this group of advisers has shaped – and continues to shape  my professional and personal life.

Many of the women asked how I had built this advisory network over the years. I shared my belief in seed planting and cultivating trust over time to fuel these relationships.

To cultivate meaningful trust in your professional network after you’ve planted a seed, the following must take place:

  • Bring your best and most authentic self forward.
  • Offer a relationship that is mutually beneficial.
  • Seek to understand new points of view and motivations.
  • Give more than you take, while not abandoning your own interests.
  • Help others to achieve their ultimate goals, desires and aspirations.
  • Offer your time and talents as value, to demonstrate your investment in the relationship.   

I believe that the above pillars support creating a foundation of trust over time, where you then start to receive some of the same benefits you’ve offered others, as the trust builds and relationships flourish.

If you look closely to the seasoned business leaders in our community, there is one common thread among those who have built a successful portfolio of connections, centers of influence, and personal advisers: They have not only planted the seeds, but they have cultivated the trust to go along with it.

As Midwesterners, we recognize that a farmer develops a certain trust with their farmland, Mother Nature, earthly nutrients and the seeds planted in springtime. The more time and care he or she invests in the planting and nurturing in the spring and summer months, the greater the validation when it comes to harvest season.

The act of trust is truly an investment, but if done right is sure to bear fruit and offer a return, one day. After all, "never underestimate the value of planting a seed." 

Susan Hatten is an account executive at Holmes Murphy where she also assists in sales and strategic partnerships. She dedicates much time to community involvement through fundraising and volunteering for several organizations, including Variety - The Children's Charity, WineFest and the Variety Riverview Park Star Playground campaign. She is a founding member of the Junto Networking group and is an active member in Lead Like A Lady. She was named the 2017Meredith Corp. Emerging Business Woman of the Year and a member of the 2011 Forty Under 40 class by the Business Record, dmJuice Young Professional of the Year, Variety's International Ambassador in 2012 and the Downtown Des Moines Chamber of Commerce Ambassador of the Year in 2012, among others. Susan is a graduate of Iowa State University. Contact her via email.