Proper networking skills are at the heart of every successful real estate investor. You may be able to find deals through marketing, but nothing can help grow your business quicker than networking. What many investors forget is that real estate is done by real people inside of a local area. People like to work with others that they are confident can get a job done, or they like to be around. With well executed networking, you can find like-minded people in your market to connect with. This connection will help you find deals and slowly grow your business. Networking is much more than shaking hands and exchanging business cards. If you are going to do it, you might as well do it right. Here are four tips to help you improve and get the most out of your networking:
1. The Right Frame Of Mind: After a twelve hour day, the last thing you may want to do is go to a networking meeting. It is decisions like this that will transform your business. Here is where you need to make the commitment to do it the right way. The people you talk to can tell if you really don’t want to be there. Whether you need to grab a cup of coffee or take a quick trip to the gym, your energy level should be high as soon as you walk in the room. Instead of looking at networking as something you have to do, you should embrace it. Think about what a couple of good connections can do for your business. Not only can you find more deals, but they will have a much higher chance of closing. Additionally, your cost to acquire these deals will be much less. On top of that, you never know who a new connection knows, or if they could further help your business. This all starts with having the right frame of mind. Real estate networking isn’t easy, but our attitude is much more important than you may think.
2. Build Relationships: Networking isn’t a contest to see who has the most business cards at the end of the night. The end goal should be to find one or two good connections that you can envision working with in the future. To do this, you should think about building relationships. Instead of just jumping right into business mode, keep the conversation light. Talk about your favorite sports team, the weather, your kids or anything other than business. By finding something that people want to talk about, you put them at ease and make the conversation easy. There will be plenty of time to talk business moving forward. Unless you build a rapport and find some common ground, you may not ever get to that point. Never make the conversation all about you. The last thing someone at a meeting wants to hear is how successful your business is, or about the tenant you are trying to evict. Instead of looking for someone you can work with, start by building relationships.
3. Follow Up: If you do not follow up within 24 hours of a meeting, you run the risk of throwing away any good will you may have created. Don’t think that sending an email is enough. Pick up the phone and give your new contact a call. If they don’t answer, leave a message and follow up again the next day. When they do call you back, be prepared to set up a meeting to discuss business. If your conversation was light, meet for a cup of coffee or even a drink after work. Not every meeting needs to be dinner or at an office. Follow up to your personality, but be mindful of your end goal. Whether you are meeting with an attorney, mortgage broker, wholesaler or fellow investor, you want to grow your business. Don’t be afraid to ask for it. Come right out and ask how or if you think you can work together. You will get a good idea of where you stand from their answer.
4. Consistency: You may go to five networking meetings in a row and not make one connection. Human nature may tell you that you are wasting your time and should scrap the club. What you don’t know is whether or not the sixth meeting may be the one where you find a business partner. Real estate is often described as a numbers game. With networking, the more people you talk to, the greater the chance you will find someone to work with. Networking clubs and investing groups can get monotonous at times, but you need to stick with them. Someone you never spoke with may see your face every week and finally approach you about a deal. Networking for an hour or two a week may not be your most enjoyable activity, but it is necessary.
Talking to people at meetings will not only improve your networking, but will also help you learn the business. There are many different local places to network. Find one or two that are in line with your business, and jump right in.