If you network correctly, it can be a huge source of listings and deals for your business. Networking is all about building relationships and connecting with those people on a consistent basis to stay in front of them.
So let's talk about some things you can do differently when it comes to networking.
Relationship Building: What Is It?
Relationship building in business involves creating strong and positive bonds with your clients through the use of interpersonal skills. The better relationships you have with your clients and other people useful to your real estate business, the stronger the trust will be and the more business you stand to gain.
Just as with other skills, you can learn how to build effective relationships. All it takes is a little effort. To make your relationship stronger, focus on making connections with more people relevant to your business.
Networking is a great opportunity to make business connections that will translate to strong business relationships.
How to Build Effective Relationships
Diversify your networks.
Go beyond your immediate circle and people that you know well. To increase your resourcefulness, you need to expand your networks. You can only do this by getting out of your comfort zone. So open yourself to opportunities to meet other people outside this circle and work to nurture relationships with new people. Attend different networking events that draw people from different professions, industries and walks of life.
Take this example:
My wife and I were in Santa Barbara, California, living there for a month in the summer. We went to a little hiking meetup because we wanted to meet people in the local community. Only three other people showed up, but we got to know them pretty well. We hiked with them for about two hours and exchanged contact info at the end. It was an easy and fun way to start some new relationships. So if you don't have enough relationships with people in a certain area, get out there and do meetups.
If you're a cyclist or someone who kayaks, or if you surf or whatever it might be, go to the Meetup app and find a local event. Even if there's only one other person there, that one person could eventually be looking for an agent to help them buy or sell a home.
Here’s another example — a real estate agent we were working with did a little booth at an art walk. He brought his books, some brochures, and some local CMAs about the market. He got two listings from that — from just sitting at an art walk!
The bottom line is that building relationships requires different thinking than just, “I'm going to go to an event. I'm going to network with 100 people.” You need to think outside the box. Do things like opening a booth at your farmer’s market or at a local art walk, and just advertise yourself as a real estate agent.
Give as much as you expect.Reciprocity is an important ingredient in any relationship. Be open to giving as much as you expect. Share industry information, offer help, connect people, make time for people, etc., and you’ll see your relationships flourish. People will respond to you in the same manner you treat them.
Commit to your relationships.
You have to commit time and effort into your relationships. Take your key relationships and put in time to grow them. These are the relationships you believe will bring you returns in the near future. So spend time with your most important clients, employees, mentors, etc., and put effort into building relationships with them.
Focus on the relationship.
Gone are the days when networking was all about passing on your business cards. Now, it’s all about the relationships you build during events. If you focus on building relationships, you'll pay more attention to the networks you build around you and not interact with people just for the sake of landing business.
Renew and reshape your networks often.
Some relationships might diminish over time. This doesn’t make them less important to you. Revive such relationships and avoid letting them die by nudging people for some meaningful interaction every now and then. Keep identifying new relationships vital to the future of your business, and build these new connections to replace old ones that cannot be revived.
Business Networking Groups
Stumped about what groups to join? Here are some ideas.
Local business groups: There are lots of business groups in most cities and towns where members meet on a regular basis. One of the largest business groups in the U.S. is the Chamber of Commerce. Or find a business group for real estate agents in your town and join.
BNI (Business Network International): BNI is a great networking business group, especially for getting referrals. Only one person from each specific profession is allowed to join a chapter of BNI. So if you are able to join a chapter, you will be the only real estate agent in that chapter. This eliminates the possibility of competition among members of the group.
Mastermind groups: Mastermind groups are ideal for brainstorming, learning, peer accountability and business support in a group setting. Joining a relevant Mastermind will sharpen your business and personal skills.
Community service groups: One of the most popular community service groups is Rotary International. Such groups bring together professionals with diverse backgrounds and give them a platform to exchange ideas, form meaningful, lifelong friendships, and give back to their communities.
Professional associations: These are industry-specific groups that bring together people who work in the same industry. So as a Realtor, you should find a real estate association near you. Membership in such groups can also boost your professional standing.
Social media/online networking groups: There are lots of business networking groups on most social media sites. You will find most of the popular and effective networking groups on Facebook and LinkedIn. Simply search for real estate and related groups on these sites and join them. I also recommend Meetup.com. Meetup.com has a whole bunch of local events people are throwing all over your area for all different reasons. There are real estate events, investing events, and everything in between. Head to the site and play around, and if you find something that excites you, go to it and check it out.
Another source of business — and one that a lot of agents don't think about — is public relations, or PR. In this case, PR refers to going out and getting publicity in your local community. If you have something of value to offer or you're an expert in a particular neighborhood, you can easily contribute as a resource. You want to try to be the resource for real estate in your area.
There are a few ways to do this, including:
- A local blog;
- A local Instagram or other social media account;
- Local television news, newspapers or magazines
My dad is a real estate agent, and he connected with a local paper, a local blogger, and even the local radio station. He would offer real estate stats about his market. As the market was changing, he was their resource for a lot of questions, and it made him look great. He could easily repost his involvement with these PR opportunities to his social media accounts, positioning himself as even more of an authority.
This is a really good way to put yourself out there and to strengthen your position.