In a space where every person is out to sell something, how can you stick out? How can you grow a list of connections that you can depend on? Let’s discuss the things that are > (greater than) when it comes to networking.
Networking is one of the most important tools for any Agent or Broker. It’s essential to have strong networking skills in order to grow your business and maintain it. However, many people approach networking in a way that lacks a human, genuine touch that is fundamental in growing a useful network. There are ways to approach this skill that will give you more powerful connections that forge bonds for a solid, interwoven web.
1) Paid > Free
A paid conference such as Inman Connect or Buffini and Company is a great way to meet other like-minded Agents and/or Brokers. It’s a space to connect with other professionals in a face-to-face way. Attend paid events because those attending care about their professional experience enough to pay to be there, too. According to Devin Someck, co-founder and Principal of Living New York, a Real Estate firm based out of New York City, “pay to play is always better.” He says that at those types of conferences, “people are not there for the free lunch, but” because they are there to “really learn, network, and meet people. They are taking it more seriously.” Free conferences, although tentatively informative, are not the best place to build a network that can truly serve you.
2) Elicit > Solicit
One of the best practices with regard to networking is to truly get to know the people. You need to elicit information before you solicit anything from anyone. Ask questions and see where people’s needs are not being met. Gather information about what their business is, what their interests are, what hobbies they pursue, etc. Agent Laura Marie of Tampa Bay’s “Your Home Sold Team” weighs in: “You need to ditch the pitch. Stop trying to get before you give and stop talking about the weather.” Laura knows that genuine conversation can build a relationship. You have to “listen to information and know where you are value added” says Devin Someck. In a lot of cases, “the best sales strategy is to listen more than talking.” Through being an engaged listener, you can gather information that may be valuable to you later on. Additionally, show how you can be of service given the information you gathered. Showing how you can help without having anything to overtly gain will strengthen the relationship.
3) Quality > Quantity
Collecting cards and adding connections on social media is a way of making “networking” with a lot of different people. However, having a true conversation and making a connection will serve you better long-term. When Devin Someck’s agents come back from networking events with tons of collected business cards, he asks them to consider which, if any are “actually business perspectives.” If you have a thousand contacts, but do not maintain a strong relationship with any of them, you have no true network or contacts. If you have fifty contacts that you work on bi-monthly, then you have the start of something. This is just to say, quality is greater than quantity. “Focus on the quality of the connection. Enjoy having coffee with people, have email correspondence, get to know people to pair with others” says Laura Marie. You should try to cultivate “real connections and know who people are and what their values are.” So, your network can be wide, but you must invest time into it. Otherwise, it is essentially worthless to the growth of your business.
Social Media and Real Estate Networks
When it comes to networking virtually, use these same guidelines stated above. When you make connections via social media or on networks like REALLY, add quality content and have sincere engagement. Be strategic about your selections and connections as to make it worthwhile to all parties. Post content from areas of expertise. Engage meaningfully with responses that you gather from putting yourself out there. Be sure to spread the love. Do not just expect engagement from others. Add comments and ask questions to elicit and engage others within the virtual communities.
As technology and our dependence on it only increases over time, finding ways to meld networking virtually and in person will be critical to your own business growth. No matter which way you begin with networking, know that this investment of time, if done well, will yield connections that will be long-lasting and beneficial.