The ability to build your network effectively is a powerful tool in real estate. It can open doors to clients, mentors and strategic alliances. It’s also a learned skill. With a little preparation and a little practice, anyone can network effectively.
- Do your homework. Before you head out the door, polish your LinkedIn profile. When your name is searched, LinkedIn ranks among the highest in Google’s search results. Your profile is your online persona and resume. Make sure it’s reflective of how you want others to see you.Order more business cards. Although we’re digital with many things, it’s always good to have something to put into a new contact’s hands.Practice your elevator pitch. In one sentence, what is it that you do? How do you want others to perceive you? Make it interesting, succinct and powerful.
- Be curious. While it may have gotten the cat in trouble, it’s one of the most effective networking secrets. Remember, networking is a two-way street. No selling. Just be curious. Ask questions, build rapport and learn about the other person. Practice the F.O.R.D. principle when you aren’t sure what to ask. F=Family, O=Occupation, R=Recreation and D=Dreams. People do business with people, and people will remember someone who’s genuinely interested in what they have to say.
- Be a connector. Have a contact who could help someone you’ve just met? Be an everyday hero and make introductions. One of the most powerful networking opportunities is connecting others.
- Host a post-event “huddle” with yourself. Take a few moments after the event to jot down what you learned about each person on the back of their business card. Your ability to remember details can also be your point of distinction.
- Don’t be a card collector. Be a follow-up ninja. Meeting someone is the first step to networking effectively. A day after your meeting, send a follow-up email or make a follow-up call. Set a lunch date or book a 30-minute coffee appointment to learn more about who you’ve met.
- Who do you already know? Look through your existing contacts and reconnect. Look for strategic partners or alliances with potential for mutually-beneficial business relationships. For instance, if you’re a real estate agent, who do you know that’s a CPA, a divorce attorney, an estate attorney or a mortgage lender? Clearly, you’ll be able to help one another in many ways. Approach them with an offer of value to help them in their business. Give, give, give, before any expectation of receiving.
- Get out of the office. What things do you enjoy doing? Golf? A cooking class? Mentoring young people? Get out and do those things. Widen your sphere of influence and have fun doing it!
- Give back. Get involved in community or volunteer projects. Serve on a non-profit board of directors. Meet people in different circles. Show others you care.
- Good practice makes perfect. The more you get out and meet people, the easier it becomes to network effectively. Whenever you feel timid, fall back on the F.O.R.D. principles and innate curiosity. If you’d like to move on from a long conversation at an event, politely say, “It’s been wonderful to meet and learn more about you. I’d better pop around and meet a few more people before the end of the evening.” Always be genuine. Always care about what others have to say.