I don’t know about you, but randomly introducing myself to a stranger can be a daunting and terrifying task! But as a real estate agent, new or old, this is a constant process you have to do, it's called: Networking. Suddenly you have to make small talk about yourself and make it count because this could lead to a client! Only adding pressure to an already pressure inducing situation. And let's not even begin to discuss etiquette when meeting new people: do you shake hands, oh man what if they don’t like being touched? Can they adequately hear you? Because let’s be honest this encounter is taking place in a crowded room where, there is just this hum of noise, you can’t decipher what is being said but you definitely cannot hear! There is just so much going on in this interaction that being prepared and relaxed is the only way to go about it, so we’re here to help! A good rule of thumb is to remember almost everyone is uncomfortable with what is happening but it has to be done, so just push through it. And if you are a cool cucumber, you will stand out in the sea of awkward handshakes and weird body language. So back to how we can help, we commandeered a list from our trusty title company, Austin Title, to share 10 Networking Tips for Real Estate Professionals! Enjoy!
1. Have the tools to network with you at all times. These include an informative name badge, business cards, brochures about your real estate business, and a pocket-sized business card file containing cards of other professionals whom you can refer. It is particularly important to have cards of others in the business, such as a mortgage company or a leasing agent.
2. Set a goal for the number of people you'll meet. Identify a reachable goal based on attendance and the type of group. Don't leave until you've met your goal.
3. Act like a host, not a guest. A host is expected to do things for others, while a guest sits back and relaxes. Volunteer to help greet people. If you see visitors sitting, introduce yourself and ask if they would like to meet others. Act as a conduit. (And personally, I would get there early, so you get the lay of the land and can help direct people, making an opening for easy conversation!)
4. Listen and ask questions. Remember that a good networker has two ears and one mouth and uses them proportionately. After you've learned what another person does, tell them what you do. Be specific, but brief. Don't assume they know your business.
5. Don't try to close a deal. These events are not meant to be a vehicle to "hit on" business people to buy your real estate services. Networking is about developing relationships with other professionals. Meeting people at events should be the beginning of that process, not the end of it.
6. Give leads or referrals whenever possible. The best networkers believe in the "givers gain" philosophy (what goes around, comes around). If you don't genuinely attempt to help the people you meet, then you are not networking effectively. If you can't give someone a bona fide lead or referral, try to offer some information that might be of interest to them (such as details about an upcoming event).
7. Exchange business cards. Ask each person you meet for two cards - one to pass on to someone else and one to keep. This sets the stage for networking to happen.
8. Manage your time efficiently. Spend 10 minutes or less with each person you meet and don't linger with friends or associates. If your goal is to meet a given number of people, be careful not to spend too much time with any one person. When you meet someone interesting with whom you'd like to speak further, set up an appointment for a later date.
9. Write notes on the backs of business cards you collect. Record anything you think may be useful in remembering each person more clearly. This will come in handy when you follow up on each contact.
10. Follow up! You can obey the previous nine commandments religiously, but if you don't follow up effectively, you will have wasted your time. Drop a note or give a call to each person you've met. Be sure to fulfill any promises you've made.