4 min read
Networking is a pivotal way successful agents grow their business, foster new connections and expand their sphere of influence. The aim of networking is to meet new people, build up a rapport and the foundations of a professional relationship that will benefit you and your business goals.
An agent’s network may consist of fellow real estate professionals, potential clients or others working in related industries. The skill of networking doesn’t come easily and can be a nerve racking task at first, but is definitely a case where ‘practice makes perfect’.
When you’re at an event that has networking potential what do you say and do to effectively connect with new people and expand you network? With the Real Estate Business Awards 2016 coming up this week we thought it’d be a great opportunity to take a look at some key things to keep front of mind while networking to mingle your way to success.
1. Be your authentic self.
Being yourself is one of the simplest but most important things to do when you’re trying to build your network and succeed in any business dealing. Don’t act like someone that you’re not, people will notice if you’re putting on a pushy salesy facade and you’ll quickly get caught out and shut down. You’ll gain better quality connections and the respect of your peers if you act naturally, true to yourself and represent your business honestly and genuinely.
2. Hear what people have to say.
One of the best sayings to apply to your networking approach is ‘we have two ears and one mouth, therefore we should listen twice as much as we speak’. People love talking about themselves, what they do and why. So, ask questions and make the conversation about the other person to see if you have anything in common or face any similar challenges. Forming connections with like-minded people is what networking is all about after all.
That doesn’t mean you should just listen for the sake of listening, but take a genuine interest in others, take notes after the conversation and follow up on any little hints they dropped about working together or future business opportunities. If they said they want to move into a quaint Victorian cottage one day, a phone call three months down the track when a cosy period home comes on the market may not generate a sale but it will generate rapport as you’ve taken an interest and listened to them.
3. Seek out the wallflower.
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a big networking event and only end up talking to the leaders and extroverts of the group. But next time, stop and take a moment to introduce yourself to the quiet person that isn’t engaging with anyone. Get the conversation going by asking why they’re at the event and what their top takeaway were from it. You never know, they could turn out to be your next client, refer you new business or highlight something important that you missed.
However, don’t spend all of your time focusing on the wallflowers. You want to ‘work the room’ and connect with as many people as you can to make the most of the event.
4. Start out simply.
One of the toughest barriers to building a strong network is getting that first conversation going with people you don’t know. A lot of agents are nervous about approaching strangers and miss a lot of networking opportunities because of their fear and reluctance to make the effort.
The confidence that it takes to approach someone for a conversation is well respected, however having a few key phrases to start the discussion can be helpful. A few simple questions such as these can be good to start a conversation with someone you’ve never met:
What do you do?
How did you get into real estate?
How long have you been in the industry?
What is your take on the market?
What would be your top three pieces of advice to a rookie agent?
What are the biggest challenges you face?
As an agent, the best thing about this is that it brings the discussion in to your realm of expertise where you can offer up a valid opinion and help. When they ask what you do and you explain you’re in real estate, go on to give your honest perspective on the market and ask about their living situation. Also offer up any further advice on topics that come up in the conversation and if they’re looking to sell suggest a free appraisal to get them interested in your service.
5. Be interested and helpful.
It isn’t possible to state this enough. Don’t approach every conversation as if you need to get a new lead or listing from it. Just be genuine and have discussions about their passions, you might find you have opinions on their passions as well. Find some common ground. Talk about music, sport and everyday life. This will work in your favour by showing you’re relatable, personable and not just another big shot agent.
Starting a conversation and asking a person what their greatest challenges are gives you the perfect opportunity to be helpful and make a meaningful connection. If someone’s biggest challenge is managing their company’s social media, recommend a course you’ve just completed or a program you use to schedule posts. They may not need an agent right now, but they’ll remember your friendliness and eagerness to assist them when they do.
Remember networking is about meeting people, opportunities to learn something new and then seeing if you can help each other out.
Where to network
LinkedIn groups. Join LinkedIn groups on topics of professional development that interest you or to reconnect with old alumni. They often hold in-person events and meetings which are great for putting your networking conversational skills to work.
Meetup.com is a great way to meet people you wouldn’t normally come into contact with from your area. There are thousands of real estate related groups on almost every topic, such as real estate technology, marketing, real estate photography, property investment, first home buyers, aspiring homeowners and wealth creation to name just a few. If the topic you’re interested in doesn’t exist you can always start your own Meetup group.
Industry events, awards and conferences. It’s safe to say most agents attend AREC and other real estate conferences throughout the year. But have you ever considered attending conferences and events outside the property industry in related disciplines? Marketing, sales, advertising and technology conferences are great ways to learn new things to improve your business and expand your sphere of influence.
At your next networking opportunity put your best foot forward by being yourself, listening to others, and genuinely taking interest in what the other person has to say.
It’s worthwhile to note you can’t expect instant gratification and leads to come flowing in overnight from your networking efforts. Networking is a long-term, foundation building activity that requires persistence and hard work.