Network The Right Way – Focus on Building Relationships

Some people say that real estate is all about “location, location, location.”

Today, I’m going to tell you that’s absolutely wrong.

So, what is the key to real estate then?

Here’s the simple answer – relationships.

You cannot be successful without a great team – from an attorney or insurance agent to brokers or lenders. That’s why the key to real estate, and virtually all other businesses, is to build relationships.

Building Successful Relationships in Real Estate

You can meet people anywhere obviously, but finding a professional focused on real estate would be pretty difficult to find randomly. Though there are a ton of ways to meet people, the fastest and easiest way is to go to networking events or meetups. Everyone is there for exactly the same reason and they are all eager to meet other professionals such as yourself.

I know a ton of people reading this and are thinking….”But I’m introverted!” I understand that because I’m introverted too. To overcome this, think about networking as your JOB. You go to work and accomplish the tasks your boss assigns to you. Networking is no different – go there with the task to meet people, accumulate business cards, and reach out and contact them.

Without further ado, here are the…

Top 17 real estate networking and meetup tips.

  1. Know your “elevator pitch.” You may even have multiple pitches depending on the event. People will often ask “what do you do” or something similar. You should be able to say something quickly that describes yourself such as “I find distressed multifamily deals that are 4-10 units. I also use my network of investors finance them or partner on them. We then stabilize, refinance, and cash flow our properties for 10-12 years.”
  2. Choose your networking events wisely. It’s not that any event is going to be “bad” but many events will be a waste of time. Try to find real estate events and also try to find events that are focused on your niche. If one doesn’t exist, then start one!
  3.  Don’t be afraid to end a conversation and move on. When at a networking event, Focus on people who you connect with and be short with the rest. Basically, if you find someone that has a strong synergy with your goals, or who is pursuing a similar track, focus on them. Be polite and move on when meeting others who are doing something completely unrelated.
  4. Quality over Quantity. In a similar vein as #3, focus on quality connections rather than quantity. A few good connections are much better than a few dozen bad connections. 
  5. Focus on developing a relationship, not on selling something. You are developing long-term relationships, some may even be life-long. By trying to sell something up front, you will probably never develop that relationship and lose out on decades of mutual benefits.
  6. Always focus on adding value. Nobody will want to invest any time in you if you bring nothing to the table. Instead, develop a skill and bring that everywhere you go. For example, are you a tech savvy millennial with no real estate experience? Perhaps you can teach an investor about SEO so they can focus on generating internet leads.
  7. Focus on receiving, not on giving. Wait, what? Doesn’t this go against the last tip? Well, in this case we are talking about business cards. Have you ever been to an event and one guy just walks around giving out business cards? What do you immediately do with it? Right, we all toss it out. Instead, focus on getting cards, taking notes on it, then following up with them the next day.
  8. Create a business card pocket system. Have you ever had a wallet full of business cards and couldn’t figure out who you wanted to contact and who you wanted to toss? Well, use different pockets to differentiate. Perhaps the front right pocket is the “toss out” pocket, and the back right pocket is the “follow up” pocket.
  9. Research participants. If you are going to a publicized event with a list of participants, then try to to pick a few people you really want to meet. By learning a bit about them and approaching them, they may be flattered and give you the time to develop a solid relationship.
  10. Focus on other people when networking. Most people love to talk, so let them! This can be hard, especially if some alcohol is present to loosen the tongue, but pay attention and make it a point to listen and ask more than speaking. They will leave with a better impression of you and you’ll live with a better understanding of them.
  11. Become a connector. This probably won’t happen at your first networking event, but as you get to know more people, you can become a “connector.” Basically, just connecting two other people automatically makes you an “influencer” which is probably the most valuable position in any field.
  12. Have several topics and questions pre-planned. Some people might call these “ice breakers” but I really hate that saying. Instead, have some questions planned as conversation starters. You can also use them if the conversation reaches a natural quiet point.
  13. Know your online persona before arriving. People will inevitably “google” you, so know what comes up in the search results and make sure you fix/alter anything you don’t want others seeing or knowing….such as those pictures of you at that party 12 years ago.
  14. Go to as many events as possible. One event is simply not enough. Also, try to go on a regular basis or there is less value. My personal goal was to go to at least 4 events a month. Once I dedicated to it though I was doing 4 every week!
  15. Try to connect with the same people over and over. Part of building relationships is connecting with people multiple times. People develop trust naturally over time just by interacting with you several times. Use these networking events to connect with people 5, 6, 10 times and eventually you’ll find yourself working with them.
  16. Don’t forget to: Bring a pen, business cards, name tag, and dress professionally but casually.
  17. Build rapport. Rapport is built by talking about topics that you have in common but are not related to the topic. Rapport is built by talking about your kids of similar age, your love of sports or cars, your favorite travel destination, etc. People connect on these levels more than talking about business, so don’t hesitate to talk about these things!

Successfully Following Up After a Meetup

So, you’ve gone to the networking event and you’ve collected all the business cards. Now what?

The next step can actually cause people to freeze with fear or indecision. Remember, this is your JOB so you need to develop a system to help you overcome that.

Follow up with everyone (of value) from the networking event.

Regardless of what you do to overcome your indecision, remember, the goal is to sit down and meet with every single person you found valuable from the meetup or networking event from the prior day. So, take out the business cards and determine who you want to meet with and prioritize them.

Your goal is to have a coffee or lunch date with them.

This may seem a bit excessive, but trust me, it works. That one hour sit down can initiate a long-term relationship. If it doesn’t, you spent an hour and had a coffee, so not much was lost.

Sample follow up email after a networking event.

Alright, just to help you out a tiny bit more, here is a simple yet effective email that can help you get started.

Hey John,

It was great meeting you last night at the meetup downtown. It was really interesting how you can find deals that unique way you mentioned (you should actually put in something real from the conversation). I’d love to sit down with you some time and chat about it, maybe for coffee next week?

Anyhow, have a great day.

Best,

Eric

This obviously doesn’t apply to someone who you want to hire for something such as a broker or insurance agent. Instead, you’d ask about their service and ask to sit down to learn more.

Following up with an influencer.

If the person is well established or an influencer, your standard email will definitely not work. Instead, offer to buy them lunch and make sure to add something of value to entice them to come.

Here’s an example

Hey John,

It was great meeting you last night at the meetup downtown. It was really interesting how you can find deals that unique way you mentioned (you should actually put in something real from the conversation).

Also, I remember you asked me about (or mentioned) X. I actually have a lot of experience with that and I already thought of a couple ways you could streamline your process.  Maybe I could buy you lunch and chat about my ideas?

Anyhow, have a great day.

Best,

Eric

What if they don’t respond?

It happens a bit that someone doesn’t respond. There are a lot of reasons why this could be, but don’t think too much of it. If it’s a professional that offers a service, you might try reaching out a second time, but I wouldn’t go more than that. Remember, if they are providing a service, they should be good at following up.

For the rest of the people you email, don’t worry about a lack of a response. Instead, remember or write down who you contact and wait until you see them at the next meetup. It gives you a great conversation starter and a way to continue to build your relationship and rapport with them.

Maintaining and Growing the Relationships You Made from Networking

Maintaining the relationship is definitely the hardest part, especially in our modern society.

I’ll just throw it out there – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, other social media, automated emails, and texts are NOT how relationships are built. These platforms have a useful purpose, primarily to keep a lot of people informed on what you’re doing. But, it does not improve your relationship.

Focus on phone calls and in-person meetings.

Phone calls and personal sit-downs are far more time consuming but the results are dramatically better. Not only will you have better business connections, but you will build strong personal relationships which are undoubtedly stronger than Facebook likes.

Here’s a quick example that came to me as I wrote this. Several months back I was scrolling through Facebook and saw that the daughter of an investor I knew had to go to the ER. There were 10 or 15 comments saying “Aww, I hope she gets better soon” or similar. Though I didn’t comment on the post, I did call up the father and asked how his daughter was. I had no other business to talk about that day and did not use it as a pretext to talk about something else.

I guarantee I was the only person who did this (except close family perhaps). I’m sure everyone who commented genuinely wanted the daughter to be fine, but most people take 2 seconds to write one line and move on with their life. By taking 5 minutes and making that call, you will leave a lasting impression.

Regularly email and call your contacts.

Now that we’ve established you must call and meet with them, it’s time to put it on a schedule. Depending on the person and what they do, you might want to find a reason to talk to them every month or two.

Also, it’s good to use a spreadsheet or some sort of CRM (customer relationship management) software to track what you’re doing, take notes about the conversation, and learn about them and their families. The necessity of this really depends on exactly what your niche is and how many contacts you need to maintain.

What are you doing to build and maintain new relationships?

Comment below and let me know what your ideas are to grow and build new relationships!

By | 2017-11-12T18:51:54+00:00 July 11th, 2017|Categories: Financial Independence|6 Comments

About the Author:

An investor that reached financial independence at the age of 30, Eric has been seen on Forbes, Trulia, WiseBread, TheStreet, and other financial publications.

6 Comments

  1. Eloisa July 27, 2017 at 4:06 am - Reply

    I love how you put an emphasis on personal interaction. A lot of us are caught up with social media so much that we forget about person to person interaction. Kudos to you reaching out to your investor when his daughter is in the ER.

    • Eric Bowlin July 28, 2017 at 6:52 am - Reply

      I agree completely. We really need to focus on the personal interaction and relationship building. The rest will fall into place.

  2. Ron Pickle August 9, 2017 at 6:34 am - Reply

    Really powerful tips! You are right most of us hesitate or are shy about approaching people but your suggestion of treating it as a part of your job makes it much easier as by doing that you detach yourself a bit from the outcome and are more relaxed.
    Ron Pickle recently posted…Does Cracked Vent Booting Cause Roof Leaks?My Profile

  3. Adam Sharpley August 21, 2017 at 9:10 am - Reply

    Very informative post. Infact ask any successful businessman and they will place greatest importance to their ability to network as one of their key marketing strategies, we must be on the radar of lots of people, if we want to succeed at all.
    Adam Sharpley recently posted…Is Roofing Warranty Going to Cover the Roof’s Lifespan?My Profile

  4. Darina Pogodina August 28, 2017 at 10:16 pm - Reply

    Thank you for sharing these useful tips. I am at the beginning of the journey to my financial freedom and building network is crucial to kick off successful investing. I read other articles before and they were all saying the same things of 1,2,3 steps of productive networking, however you, Eric, took it to the next level. Tips that are presented here are very simple, yet very in depth and transparent. You kept my attention and curiousity till the very last sentence and I learnt about bigger picture to long term building relationships vs. just attending newtworking events and neglect to follow up, build CRM, continue checking in. Morvero, noticing different styles and values of people we meet and also values we can add are key to lasting relationships, influence and partnerships. Great examples! Thanks again for sharing your expertise with us!

    • Eric Bowlin October 12, 2017 at 3:11 pm - Reply

      Wow, Darina. I really appreciate the kind words. Thank you for your comment!

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