Learning how to network effectively is a must if you work in real estate. After all, networking is fundamental to the success of any real estate business. When I consider this fact, always I’m surprised by the number of developers and realtors who don’t take advantage of incredible networking opportunities at their avail. What follows is a list of networking tips and suggestions which have been useful for me over the course of my real estate career. In the world of real estate, we’re are looking for ways to connect.
1. Surround yourself with a great team.
Having a team that is comprised of competent and trustworthy people is critical to the success of any real estate business. As a real estate developer, I am only as good as the people who surround me. In addition to professionals with whom I work and collaborate internally, I also rely on relationships I’ve built with individuals and firms in my community. Establishing connections with complementary businesses -- real estate industry vendors with whom you don’t directly compete -- is an essential networking tool. Make it your goal to identify and meet a network of vendors to whom you can refer clients, and vice versa. It will do wonders for your professional network.
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For example, when developing a new property, I rely heavily on a master architect and contractor. An incomplete set of drawings can lead to cost overruns and construction delays. While no contractor is perfect, finding a contractor you trust is the only way to complete projects successfully. Developing a relationship with an architect who is familiar with local zoning codes is essential, too. Whether an architect and contractor work well together can make or break a project. If they do not work cohesively, construction delays can result and will inevitably eat into your planned operating income.
Similarly, if your client is unfamiliar with the mortgage lending process, direct your client to a trustworthy lender who can help navigate what is often a stressful and important financial decision. By maintaining good banking relationships, developers can improve your chances of engaging in a successful transaction.
2. Create a professional website and blog.
Treat your real estate business as if it were a digital media business and go paperless as much as possible. With regard to visual appeal, my own personal belief is that every house tells a story -- all too often, however, the the character and story of a home is lost in its listing description. In the spirit of keeping readers well-informed, a good blog needs to publish new, original content on a regular basis. Increasingly, a person's first impression of a home doesn’t form at the front door, but rather, on the computer screen before the showing. Make use of local imagery; don't rely on stock building and property photos. In many ways, you’re not just selling a house, you’re selling an entire geographic culture. Showcase the best that your area has to offer by publishing high-res photos of local town landmarks and familiar sites. Successful real estate is often the product of great photography.
It also helps to be an expert and a scholar of your industry. Know what real estate apps people are using and stay updated on new developments, innovations, and trends in the industry. What real estate blogs do your clients read? What hashtags are being used at the conferences you attend?
3. Social media.
Social media has become a powerful tool to connect with your clients; it also creates a great opportunity share your knowledge and expertise with your clients in an easily sharable format. Regarding social media, respond to all inquiries, emails, and messages across all channels swiftly. Interact with users, share good press, and promote your properties. Make yourself easy to contact and be an active user on multiple channels. Use Facebook and twitter to share your listings and promote your properties on major real estate aggregators like Zillow and Trulia. Be sure to keep your voice authentic--you want to avoid coming across as if you are selling something.
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4. Attend conferences and industry events.
Remember that real estate networking events are about engaging with other professionals in your industry. Treat conferences as opportunities to learn about new market information and innovations your colleagues are using. Share conference thoughts in real time on social media. Don’t just network within your industry -- diversify. 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. Try to expand your geographical network by engaging with influencers from other geographical areas. These new connections can offer new ideas and strategies. Also, make a point to look up your past connections for coffee or drinks. It is a great way to maintain and strengthen your relationships.
5. Engage in your local community.
Knowing how to build rapport with others and relate to different types of people is key when it comes to networking. For real estate developers, establishing a consistent presence within your own community is important, too. I can’t overemphasize the importance of being an active participant in your community. Community involvement will not only expand your client base, it will strengthen your knowledge of the neighborhoods where your properties are located and of the people who live in them. Real estate professionals can develop their community presence in a myriad of ways. Here are a few ideas:
- Local sponsorship. Sponsor local festivals, little league teams, or school events. Signing up as a community sponsor often results in securing a spot for your business insignia on T-shirts, program pamphlets or flyers. This is great for branding and business recognition.
- Volunteer. Spend several hours each month donating your time to local groups and organizations. If you want to keep within the real estate theme, volunteer for a local chapter of Habitat for Humanity, or reach out to an affordable housing advocacy group in your city. This is a great way both to expand your network and have a positive impact on your community.
- Local Radio / Media. Reach out to your local radio station. Public radio shows always need content. It’s likely that you can help them out by lending your voice to a show or podcast segment.
- Education. Consider partnering with local schools during career days; it’s an engaging way to generate real estate leads. If any local colleges or universities offer real estate courses, reach out to them and offer your expertise. If your business is open to the idea, propose the idea of starting an internship program with a local college.
- Develop partnerships with local businesses. Join local networking groups, nonprofit boards, or arts associations whose activities interest and inspire you.