August 15, 2015

10 Networking Tips for Realtors

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Regardless of what industry you work in, networking events can be daunting. For those of us that aren't extreme extroverts, the inherent pressure to chit-chat and socialize with strangers can be uncomfortable. Everyone has their own tips and tricks for "surviving" networking events, but what if you we could help you rethink think your approach to these events and help you thrive? After all, by making the most of these events you can drive some significant results for your business!

That's why we've pulled together our 10 tips to help realtors master networking events.

1. Come Prepared

Step 1, plan out your goals for the event. Identify what you'd like to accomplish through attending the event, specific people you'd like to connect with, and things you'd like to learn more about. Also, ensure that you have a sufficient amount of business cards, pamphlets, and other relevant contact or promotional materials ready to go. Now, you're ready to rock!

2. Start with your Geography

If you have been living and working in your area for a long time, you might already be buddies with the other Realtors in your area. When it comes to big networking events, try to break out of your bubble and meet influencers from other areas. Not only does this give you connections in new locations, but they might have different insights and strategies you can try.

Whenever you go to a networking event or conference look up your past connections for coffee or drinks. It is a great way to maintain your relationships as well as learn about different business strategies.

3. Listen, Listen, Listen

As much as you want to promote yourself and put yourself in a good light, talking about yourself constantly is off-putting. Ask thoughtful questions and pay attention to the people you speak with. Listening is a great way to learn more about another professional and potentially uncover how you can help them. Additionally, in all likelihood you'll learn some new tactics from them!

You will gain more from the conference if you take the time to listen and absorb what is going on around you. Even though you might have a great pitch prepared, feel out the conversation before you drop into sell mode or over share. Remember, you're here to initiate long-term, lasting relationships. 

4. Don't Sell

Your goals should focus on connecting, not selling. Networking events are an opportunity to gain someone's interest and leave a good impression. If you appear overly aggressive, then you run the risk of making someone uncomfortable and less likely to want to engage in a future relationship.

5. Know Your Facts

Rather than trying to impress people with a small knowledge of many things, focus on your areas of expertise. You know your county better than other Realtors, and you can help provide insights that they may not have. If you focus on your area then you will come off as an expert rather than trying to cover up for what you don't know.

6. Strategize Your Events

Real estate conferences are helpful, but they're also plentiful. Before picking what conferences to attend you should strategize which ones are the best fit for you. Researching the speakers, brokers, and other real estate attendees to see where you will get the most out of your trip especially since the costs add up quickly.

As soon as you hear about a conference, book early to get the best rates on hotels and flights. Make a list of the conferences you want to attend to figure out which are best suited for your needs. While you are planning, compile a list of Realtors you want to connect with during the event.

7. Refer

A great way to make connections is to give connections. You should attempt to help those you have created relationships with. If you don't have anyone to connect them with presently, offer them information, advice, or let them in on upcoming events you plan on attending. 

Networking events are great opportunities to gain referrals for yourself. While you are networking at an event you can be prospecting for customers as well as expanding your web of contacts.

8. Focus on Body Language

Your body language speaks louder than your words. When you close off your body, such as crossing your arms, looking down, or not making eye contact, you seem standoffish and hostile. Keep an open posture: have your head up and leave your arms and legs uncrossed to look less defensive and shy. Remember to smile, it shows happiness, openness, and confidence and will make people less afraid to approach you.

If you feel nervous before an event take a minute to assume a power stance. To learn more on how power stances can help you gain confidence, check out Amy Cuddy's TedTalk on how body language shapes who you are. Whenever you meet someone new, greet and leave them with a handshake. This will leave a memorable impression of professionalism.

9. Plan to Connect

You may have colleagues or know of other brokers at the conference or networking event, but spending your time only speaking with them defeats the purpose of the event. If you meet someone interesting who you would like to connect with more, then set up a time to meet with them at a later time and make sure you get their contact information. This way, if you happen to be in their area you can meet up with them in the future.

Before attending a speaker, research them. You will be better informed on the topic as well as able to prepare questions for the event. Researching speakers allows you to have a plan of action for the event. You can make sure you meet the people you to and have prepared topics to discuss with them. Learning about attendees will give you insights as to who you know that will be there, giving you an opportunity to nurture a stronger relationship.

10. Follow-Up

After a networking event, immediately follow up with your new connections. The longer you leave your new contacts unattended, the more difficult it will be to stay top of mind with them. Recalling details of a conversation after a while becomes increasingly more difficult. Add your new contacts to your database or CRM tool as soon as possible to help form lasting relationships.

Following-up with other Realtors will help you in the long run, but you can also use social media to follow the conference hashtag (#) as well as document your experience to those who were not in attendance. Your tweets, blog, and Facebook posts can lead to connections outside of the physical conference. Through social media you can become a real estate influencer by passing along market information as well as documenting your favorite speakers.

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All of the effort you put into the event will be wasted if you don't take the time to follow-up with the people you met. Sending an email or a letter lets them know you are interested in furthering the conversation. You can send a note to a panelist or speaker who impressed you. Following-up with someone allows you to give them more information on yourself such as your resume. You can use the downtime you have on your trip such as flights or evenings to keep track of the new contacts you have gained. Make a habit of following-up after networking events to keep your relationships growing and help you gain leads.