One of the most important ways to meet new prospects in real estate is by networking, both online and offline.
Before you decided to become a real estate agent, you had to figure out if you had the qualities required to do this job. Being social and outgoing are two of the most important traits necessary to make it in this tough industry. I’ll be perfectly honest with you; I was not the most outgoing person before I started this career. But I learned the importance of the “six degrees of Kevin Bacon” and have since mastered the art of networking.
Here I will explain the basis of networking face-to-face and online. Some of it might seem like common sense or very basic to you but, trust me, I’ve seen and heard some horror stories when it comes to networking.
The why is simple. Your goal is to be top of mind when someone decides to sell/buy real estate. You have to get the word out that you are a qualified real estate agent who knows the market. Advertising will only take you so far. I consider advertising to be the re-enforcement of your networking efforts. If all you do is advertise and never network, you will not be able to maximize your brand out in the market and will have to spend a lot more money.
Face-to-face networking is scary for many agents. A lot of pressure comes with entering a room full of strangers and having the guts to walk up to someone and introduce yourself. What do I say first? What do I talk about? Do I give them my business card right away? Follow these few simple rules and I guarantee you will become successful at networking.
1) Smile. That is the easiest way to get someone to talk to you. If you are standing there by yourself, smile. It will make you look more approachable and easier to talk to. When you walk up to a stranger, smile and extend your hand to shake theirs. Introduce yourself. Ask them what they do. And I want to stress this: Do NOT talk about yourself until asked. Always ask them right away what they do. The No. 1 goal of networking is to help others be successful. You want to learn about their business, discover their goals and be able to introduce them to someone else they can do business with.
2) Only speak about what you do and what you have to offer after they ask. See if you can relate what you do for a living to what they do. Make sure you have your elevator speech down to a T. Do not talk too much about yourself unless you see that there is a connection with the other person. If there is a connection (even if you know there will never be business opportunities with them), go deeper into the personal chatting. Establish a relationship. Remember, they might be best friends with your biggest prospective client. Never discount them.
3) Invite them for lunch or coffee some day. Talk about other things than business. Send them articles about their company or industry via email that might interest them. One of the things I became known for in my niche market is as a connector. I introduce people to each other who I think might be a good match, either because of personal or business affinities. That way if they do end up doing business together, both will feel like they owe you. And this, my fellow agents, is one of the most important ways to get favours and business. Read How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie to learn more on becoming a great face-to-face networker.
One of the newest and best ways to network in today’s technologically advanced world is with Facebook. I’m not talking about creating a page for yourself called John Doe Real Estate Agent. That is what I call a hard sell and people don’t buy it anymore. What you want to do is add your clients as friends on Facebook and establish strong relationships with them on a daily basis. Get to know them better and vice-versa. Share helpful tips and advice about real estate and other things related to living in a house/condo or in the community and they will be clients for life.
Twitter is another way to stay connected with past, current and future clients. Twitter is NOT an advertising medium. Make sure that you connect and interact with people or you will not gain any followers (friends). The goal again is to offer value and stay top-of-mind with sellers/buyers. I’m not saying that you can’t advertise your properties or services once in a while but the main goal is to create and establish relationships with potential clients that you would normally not have the chance to meet face-to-face.
Google+ and LinkedIn are other platforms Realtors should use to connect with clients and other agents.
In all your networking, remember one thing: your actions and intentions need to be perfectly genuine. You cannot fake this. And you need to be consistent. My target market is young professionals wanting to live downtown. So I network in organizations such as the Junior Chamber of Commerce, United Way GenNext, Young Associates (members of a local university business school), downtown organization events, store openings, community fundraisers and marketing and advertising association events. I also network online via all these organization’s Facebook, Twitter and websites.
Networking is about making friends with several people that will help you get more business either now or in the future. As Jeffrey Gitomer said: “It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.”
J.F. Ratthé has been in sales and marketing for over 12 years. He found his passion a few years ago and decided to focus his real estate business in downtown Winnipeg. He has since become one of the busiest Realtors in his niche market and is now helping new real estate agents becoming successful. www.jfratthe.com.