YPN members share strategies for better networking
There is a philosophy that networking should be organic. Something you do every day, anywhere and not just at your typical business networking events.
“I start with normal, plain language,” says Coleman. “Then ask ‘Where are you going?’ Then I can throw in ‘I’m off to a showing.’ That usually sparks the question ‘What are you showing?’ and I can say I’m a REALTOR®.”
Once you mention real estate, that is typically followed by “How’s the market?” and the conversation continues. What is selling, what is not? Is there a lot of inventory?
Coleman says it’s important to know your numbers to be able to have an intelligent conversation. Be knowledgeable about current market stats and interest rates. It’s at that point, deeper into the conversation when it’s OK to offer a card.
Says Coleman: “I keep it casual and offer to be a resource, even if they just have questions about the market.”
So, you’ve made a new contact at the gas pump. What’s next? How do you turn that chance meeting into future business?
“You can meet 1,000 people in a day but if you never talk to them again, it won’t do you any good,” says Kwilosz. “A personal note goes a long way, phone calls, set a coffee.”
He adds: “You’re not going to get anything right away from meeting someone and talking with them for six or seven minutes. But it’s a gateway for you to build a relationship and find a way that you can give value and offer to help that person. Then it just comes after that. Givers get.”
Coleman believes in a “soft approach” to follow-up. Instead of a phone call she sends an email.
“I don’t send it as soon as they leave, however I’m not going to wait a day either,” says Coleman, who likes to promise a follow-up and then does it consistently. It can set you apart from those who don’t make the time and effort to follow-up.
REALTOR® Rasheed Shofidaya with Kale Realty in Chicago subscribes to the organic approach to networking. Sharing ideas, having conversations, listening. He has a goal of adding two people a day to his network and believes “if you’re not networking, you’re not working.”
His tactics include complimenting someone on a nice pair of shoes or making a joke in the grocery story like “That’s not healthy for you.” Anything but real estate to get the conversation going to build a relationship.
In the gym, it can start with “How is that workout going? Then, he’ll make a joke about being tall (7 feet exactly) leading into telling his story of playing college basketball.
“I’ll be here a couple days a week,” he’ll add then asks “When are you here? Maybe we can coordinate a workout together. What do you do outside of the gym?” The question often comes back around, ‘What do you do?” and then we’re back to real estate and “How’s the market?”
Another tip from Shofidaya, join something you’re passionate about.
“A lot of my network is community outreach,” he says. “I work with young boys of color. I want to be a problem solver for people, and it’s not all real estate. But if you need help with real estate I can help you.”
Similarly, Coleman majored in dance in college and teaches dance as a side gig. She mentions being in real estate to the students and the people she works with, which has led to deals.
This strategy is called “Don’t be a secret agent.” Tell people what you do. Enlist your family and friends to do the same.
Says Coleman: “My mom’s a nurse and my boyfriend works at Target. They carry my business cards and have helped me get clients. Your biggest cheerleaders will talk you up.”
Turning networking into referrals
Networking is an important skill to develop and strategy to use to grow your real estate business, according a recent member survey of the Illinois REALTORS® Young Professionals Network (YPN). Here’s how YPN members use networking to cultivate business.
“I have met brokers and preferred vendors from all across the country. People who make a lasting impression on me will go in my book of best people to refer my clients. I make it a habit to give recommendations of people I have met and people I would trust with my own business. In return, and without asking, I find my name being referred quite a bit by other people I have met at networking events.” – REALTOR® Connie Vavra, RE/MAX Professionals, Bolingbrook
“Quick and consistent follow-up. You’d be surprised how surprised people are by quick responses or any responses. Someone who casually mentions selling their home at a barbecue would no doubt be impressed with an email of their neighborhood market stats the next morning.” – REALTOR® Christine Coleman, Coleman Land Company, St. Charles
“Talk about non-real estate topics but then let them know that you can be their go-to person for real estate matters.” – REALTOR® Fred Zeilner, Coldwell Banker Residential, Flossmoor
“Add them to my sphere of influence and keep in touch regularly. You don’t get what you don’t ask for so always ask for referrals.” – REALTOR® David Bovyn, Exit Real Estate Partners, Downers Grove
“I love to write handwritten notes to people I meet through networking. Also connecting with them on social media, like Facebook, to stay in front of them” – REALTOR® Megan Beechan, Realty Executives Elite, Lemont
“In this industry we are the product we are trying to sell. I know that every person I meet could be someone that I could refer to and would gladly accept my referral. The challenge is to find the people you connect with that you can confidently know they would take amazing care of the client you are referring and that they don’t see the client as adding to their bottom line. If I’m treated as a business transaction, that’s how the client will be treated.” – REALTOR® Gibby Kirby, Realty Executives, Shorewood