Building Business Relationships
Welcome back to part two in our discussion about networking in real estate. I really believe in the power of social connections, and even for those who are a bit on the shy side or are uncomfortable in large gatherings, I promise you can become an effective networking pro. I shared several major benefits of networking in my last post, which I hope got you thinking about all the ways you can apply those ideas in your own business. In today’s post, we’re going to outline tips on how to network and build meaningful relationships, plus some additional benefits that will come from the work you put in.
Surround yourself with great people. That tip actually applies to all aspects of life, but it is especially important in real estate. When you keep company with helpful colleagues (one tip last post was finding a mentor) and knowledgeable professional acquaintances, you have the opportunity to collaborate and seek help when you need it. I’ve been in real estate long enough that I have seen agents and investors get in with the “wrong crowd”. There are plenty of people in this business who are arrogant, money-focused, and willing to brush aside rules and even license law to get ahead. Don’t worry about that crew — clients and other business professionals will pick up on their disingenuous motives. In addition to connecting with other like-minded real estate professionals, work on establishing relationships with complementary business owners. These are the people who are not your competitors; they are the builders, contractors, mortgage lenders, insurance agents, and designers who all play a role in real estate transactions. Get to know them and refer clients to them when the opportunity arises. It’s amazing how many referrals come from these groups. Additionally, a major benefit of knowing the experts in these other fields is having valuable resources to answer client questions that are just out of our wheelhouse as realtors or investors.
Create a website and start a blog. The real estate business is rapidly trending toward going paperless. We send contracts over the Internet, we do much of our marketing and communication digitally, and people look for homes on real estate websites. That’s just the nature of our business now, and we all have to keep up. The best way to do that is to present yourself online in a professional way. There are websites where you can create your own website and purchase a domain name very inexpensively, and there are blogging sites that are completely free to use. Just Google those search terms and you can sort through the ones that you like best. My favorites are Blogger and WordPress for blogs, and Wix or GoDaddy for basic website creation. If your budget allows, you can always hire a website designer to create a site for you. These digital networking projects take time, just like building your social media presence (as discussed in my last post) but creating original, unique content is a fantastic way to build credibility and cultivate a following. If you are helpful, genuine, and creative, people will respond to that and remember you when the time comes for them to buy or sell. Networking is all about connecting in a meaningful way, and your website or blog is a prime way to make (and keep) that connection.
Don’t focus on your “sell”. What do I mean by this? I mean don’t focus on what you need to ask for when you are networking. Those who seem too eager or selfish will likely have their business cards tossed at the end of a meeting or event. When you meet someone, figure out what you can do for him or her. How can you help his business? What do you know that could help her business? Obviously, this doesn’t apply to direct competitors, but for everyone else, help them before you ask for something for yourself. I promise you will see a drastic rise in your contact list if you try this method. The referrals, advice, and other advantages will come if you are able to be interested in what other people do and what you can do to benefit them. Plus, how great would it be to find out you gave someone else treasured advice like others have given you?
My final tips all fall under the umbrella of community involvement, which I also discussed a bit in my last post. It’s crucial that real estate professionals be seen in the community. We are often peoples’ guides to a new city or a resource for schools, retail, neighborhoods, charities, etc. The best way to become a local expert is simply to get out and get involved. In addition to volunteering for philanthropic organizations, realtors and investors might enjoy some business benefits from local sponsorships, sitting on a board for a group or business, and appearing on a local radio or news program. In my city, each news station has a segment where business leaders from many different sectors can purchase air time to discuss current trends, answer questions, and promote their businesses. These are all effective ways of connecting with others and letting them know what you do and how you can help them.
I hope these tips and benefits of networking will inspire you to get out and get involved, no matter where you are in your career. For all of us, the art of networking is a work-in-progress, and as long as we are genuine and helpful, the business perks will not be far behind.