There aren’t many people who thoroughly enjoy going into a crowd of strangers and sparking up conversation – especially when you are new to your career. Networking, however, can be a great source of knowledge, lead generation and social skills and, ultimately, can make you money!
There are always opportunities to network around you whether it be at a club or group in the city, a party you have been invited to, something involving organized real estate or even reunions.
My favourite networking events are the ones that I host. How does one host a networking event? Early in my career I found myself using the Buffini methods and haven’t turned back. Brian Buffini recommends that you host networking groups of your own to bring together all the people you know in one room. This will help solidify your relationships as well as build your business. The first event we hosted (my business partner and I) was a pancake breakfast at our office. We invited all of our contacts including but not limited to: plumber, inspectors, mortgage finance people, insurance brokers, Rogers rep, spa owners, electricians, lawyers, chiropractor, RMT, and many more. We were nervous about the outcome and had 15 attend our event (a lot more than we had anticipated for a 7 am breakfast). We had tremendous feedback. People praised us for providing them with an opportunity to meet other like minded individuals and help them build their business. We have now hosted 12 networking events and have had our contacts offer their spaces and host breakfast or evening events. This has not only helped our referral business but it also has helped us bring quality people to our clients – they almost always get a preferred treatment because of the relationships we have built with them.
What’s the best way to handle yourself when you don’t know everyone in the room? This is a bit harder to get into in detail. Everyone has a different approach to how they like to meet and greet. I suggest that you try to meet a few people well versus meeting a lot of people poorly. It is important to develop a relationship instead of a quick hi and goodbye. You’ll gain much more from a short (or long) conversation than from a quick meet and greet. People love to talk about themselves – especially Realtors. Asking questions is a great way to start a conversation and meet other people. I always like to take notes on the back of peoples business cards of things they told me, for example, how many kids they have. I also like to “forget” my business cards. This way I collect other peoples’ and send them a personalized note the next day with my business card and details and it gets sent to their office where they are more likely to keep my card in their desk versus tossing it in the trash. Many people don’t get personalized mail anymore and it goes a long way.
Some great questions to ask to get the ball rolling include:
- What do you do?
- How long have you lived in ________?
- How long have you been doing ________?
- Is this what you always saw yourself doing?
- Where is your office located?
These types of open ended questions help to start a conversation and you can continue to ask from there.
My last piece of advice about networking is: don’t be afraid to network with your competition. Many agents avoid seeing other Realtors, but this is where I sometimes learn my most important information. The Realtors in your local board can add insight about the trends in your marketplace based on what they have been seeing, situations they have run into, information about new neighbourhoods, etc. I have made many great relationships with people outside my brokerage who I meet for coffee and talk to about experiences with home inspectors, lawyers etc.; lessons learned; properties coming to market soon and so much more. Don’t be afraid to talk to other agents in your market because sometimes those relationships will help you to win an offer over someone else’s because of the relationship you have built.