Networking is much more than the quick exchange of business cards. It’s the process of connecting with people then building and maintaining relationships over time. Real estate networking is about connecting with anyone, not just real estate professionals. Create a strong network and the connections you make will open the door to real estate referrals.
Here are my top networking tips to help you with your real estate lead generation strategy:
Attend Professional Networking Events
Networking events are planned so people can meet each other and make business connections. You’ll find a comprehensive list of local networking events just by Googling the phrase, “networking near me.” Most professional networking events provide a name badge, so make sure you wear yours and make note of who you meet. You’ll be much more memorable if you take the time to follow up the next day.
Avoid floating around the room without getting to know anyone. Instead, focus on making a strong connection with fewer people. If you’re shy, look for another wallflower and strike up a conversation. It’s easy to spend the entire time catching up with people you already know, so make an effort to break away and meet new people. These are friendly events and everyone is there to network, so don’t be afraid to approach people and introduce yourself.
Join Local Online Groups
Online connections are just as important to your business as the connections you make in person. When you join a local group on sites like Facebook or NextDoor, you become part of an online, neighborhood conversation. Members of these groups post all kinds of things about the community, ask for recommendations and ask each other questions. Stay on the board long enough and, inevitably, someone will post a question about real estate.
Try to answer every real estate question. However, avoid answering a question with a link to your agent page, and instead focus on providing relevant and consistent answers. These forums are great for making connections and building name recognition, but should not be considered as free advertising. If you do want to post about your real estate business, make note of the ground rules first since soliciting for business may wind up getting you banned.
Connect on Social Media
Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn provide countless networking opportunities. In addition to friends and family, you should be following former clients, other real estate professionals and people in related fields like home inspectors and staging companies. Dedicate time each day to scroll through people’s feeds and make note of things you can bring up in future conversations.
For example, I love it when my clients post something that shows how much they enjoy their new house. I’ll comment on their post or send a text telling them how happy I am and how great their house looks.
Follow the businesses in your community and make it a point to like and comment on their posts and photos too. You’ll increase your own visibility and give people the impression that you’re a positive, connected person who supports other local businesses. People notice likes and comments all the time, even if they never mention it. The more you engage with people’s social media content, the stronger your connections will be within your entire real estate network.
Sponsor Local Events and Teams
Sponsorships are sold to help underwrite the cost of an event or sports season. You can offer to contribute to things like road races, Little League teams, carnivals and school events. Your sponsorship might get you an ad in the program or your logo displayed with other sponsors on a T-shirt or banner. You’ll increase name recognition within your community and often get the opportunity to connect and network with other sponsors.
You can also ask your brokerage if they’ll consider matching your donation since they’ll get a boost from your involvement. Just be aware that in order to comply with the National Association of Realtors Code of Ethics, your brokerage information must appear along with your name on any advertising, even if that ad appears in the back of a program at a school play.
Support Local Business
Visit local businesses every chance you get. While there, take a few minutes to get to know the people behind the counter. Do this everywhere you go. Take it a step further and introduce your friends and clients to those businesses. If you visit a business that you follow online, make sure to let them know. You can say something like, “I loved your Instagram post about your new juice bar and I’m here to try it out.”
Over time, you’ll become a familiar face and deepen your connection to the business owners with each visit. When you show people you’re willing to introduce their business to new customers, they might return the favor by sending a real estate referral your way. Just be sure to mention that you sell real estate every once in a while. Even if a referral never comes of it, it’s still important to support the businesses in your community.
Join an Alumni Association
If you graduated from a school with an active alumni base, join their alumni association and start attending their events. Don’t worry if you haven’t been involved since the day you received your diploma. You’ll be surprised at how welcoming people are, no matter when you graduated. You may not get a direct real estate referral from belonging to your alumni Association, but that membership may be the deciding factor for a potential new client.
If you don’t live near your alma mater, you can still use their alumni network to make connections. Membership usually comes with access to a directory of other alumni members, which you can use to find alumni who live near you. You don’t have to be a college graduate to get the benefits of alumni networking either. Look for schools that offer membership to non-alums, like the University of Washington.
Volunteer for Local Charities
The No.1 reason to volunteer is to make a positive difference in your community and help those in need. That said, the opportunity to make meaningful connections is an added bonus. Volunteering can include anything from spending a few hours at a food pantry to making a weekly commitment to help tutor kids after school. You can also volunteer your time on an advisory board or help plan the events and fundraisers that keep local charities in business.
No matter how you volunteer, you’ll find camaraderie with the people who volunteer alongside you. They’ll become part of your sphere of influence and expand your network which, in turn, increases the odds that someone in your network will seek your professional help.
In addition, simply being a volunteer may be enough to drive business to your door. People seek agents who align with their values. Your involvement with a particular charity may be the reason someone chooses to work with you. There are many agents who pledge a portion of each sale to a charitable cause as well. While doing good for others is what counts above all, real estate leads that you generate through your volunteer work will feel doubly rewarding.
Network With One Person at a Time
You don’t have to wait for an event to network. If you’d like to meet someone, then why not reach out to them? Tell them you’d like to learn more about what they do and how they became successful. For example, if you show a house designed by a local architect, you could send a note to the architect to tell them how much you admire their work. Go a step further and ask if they’d like to meet you for coffee.
By taking the time to make a one-on-one connection, you bring that person into your sphere of influence in a meaningful way. It’s also a great way to meet someone you may never come across in your regular circles. Real estate often feels like a 24/7 commitment, so try to slow down and carve out the time to reach out to people you’d like to know, and be sure to save your notes following each meeting to make future conversations more personal.
Pro Tip: A CRM can be a great tool for storing notes about your contacts interests as well as their names, email addresses, and phone numbers. There are also several CRMs specifically designed for real estate agents, like Liondesk, which is both affordable and easy to use.
Connect With Past Clients
You should reach out to past clients just like you would with any other professional in your community. Nobody ever said past clients can’t become current business connections and even friends. Since you’ve already asked your clients to write real estate agent reviews and stayed in touch as a good business practice, it’s time to raise the bar and invite them into your networking circles.
Start by inviting clients to join you at local events and concerts. You’ll strengthen your connection with them and give them an opportunity to connect with other people you know too. Hosting a client appreciation happy hour gives your clients a chance to meet and network with each other. Clients love feeling appreciated, and it’s a fun way to show them that their business mattered to you while laying the groundwork for future real estate referrals too.
Perfect Your Elevator Pitch
The first thing we sell in real estate is ourselves and we often need to do it within the first few minutes of meeting someone. Your elevator pitch should be a quick explanation of what you do along with how and why you do it, delivered in the time it takes to ride in an elevator (about 30 seconds). People will ask you what you do, so practice your answer until you feel confident that you will nail it every time. Make that first impression count.
A confident pitch will set the stage for networking, connections and real estate referrals. Everyone knows what a real estate salesperson does, so talk about what makes you and your business unique instead. While you’re at it, be sure to prepare your answer to “How’s the market?” since that is the inevitable follow-up question you’ll be asked after someone learns you sell real estate.
Send Handwritten Notes
When someone’s inbox has a thousand unread emails, your handwritten note will make an impact far greater than the words written inside. Buying and selling real estate is a very personal process, and so is handwriting a note. Notes can help move a relationship from passing acquaintance to personal connection. Don’t let illegible handwriting stop you. Instead, use one of the many online, handwritten correspondence services like The Handwritten Card.
Keep the content of your handwritten note simple and be brief. If you meet someone at a networking event, then say it was nice to meet them followed by whatever you’d like to have happen next such as inviting them out for coffee to continue the conversation. If they’re not in real estate, you should let them know you’d be happy to help with any real estate questions. If they are in real estate, simply say you hope to do a deal together one day.
Real estate networking is more than just meeting people and exchanging business cards, it’s about making meaningful connections with the people and businesses in your community. When you network, you expand your base of potential clients and create strong relationships that will open the door for leads and future business.
The more connections you make, the better your chances will be to get leads and referrals from the people you meet, but you’ll want to organize your contacts. A dynamic CRM like Liondesk is a CRM designed for new agents and small 1+ teams, with tools and automated features to manage all of your networking results. Visit Liondesk today to find out how it can help you organize your real estate network and grow your business.