I talk a lot about using different sources to bring in real estate leads so you don’t always rely on one single source. Today I want to talk about networking with others. Networking doesn’t have to be boring or demanding like most people think of it. Some of the first few business networking groups I attended actually scared the shit out of me, and I never wanted to go back. Luckily I realized that not all networking groups are created equal.
I remember having to get up super early in the morning and drive across town, and meet with this group of people that wanted to talk about business and giving each other referrals. Unfortunately the couple of groups I tried attending turned out not to be people that I felt I wanted to network with. There was an overall all feeling of neediness. Most of them were just scraping by in their business, just hoping to that people in the group would feel obligated to send them referrals. And then half of the people were doing their sales pitch on me, trying to get me to buy their products or use their services. So, I guess you could say I had a really bad first impression of business networking groups! I am betting that more than one person reading this blog has felt exactly the same way…
Not to worry, there are a ton of place to network with people that are fun, and where you won’t feel like they are just talking to you to suck some leads out of you. Here’s my list of places to network with people that are also fun. And remember, when you are in these situations make sure you meet new people and actually make friends. You want everyone to know what you do, but you never want them to feel like you are just there to get business from them. Real estate conversations will get started with you constantly because everyone is curious about the real estate market in their area. Just be cool, make friends, and you will get business. I just referred a $330,000 buyer to a client of mine that is a Realtor (my company does marketing campaigns for him). I met the person at an event and we started talking real estate. Simple, right? (Side note: He bought the first house my client showed him. Not a bad way to earn a $9,900 commission.)
I guess that’s enough of my rambling. On with the list…
Awesome places to network for real estate leads.
Startup Business Meetings. I am pretty much a fanatic about starting businesses. I love the planning, and the brainstorming, and creating the marketing. I have started several businesses. Some were very profitable, some were not so profitable but were still fun. Through these meeting groups I have met many people that have started successful businesses and sold them. Now they are looking for what they want to do next. I’ve also met a very wide mix of really interesting people that were good connections. Just about everybody knows someone that will need to buy or sell real estate, so the more people that know you the better. Another advantage of these types of groups is the energy that you will get from them. These are people that love starting and growing businesses. As a real estate agent you are running your own business. It is really good for you to associate with others that are doing the same.
Local Outdoor Groups. There are many types of outdoor activities in both the summer and winter months. Some of them are athletic, some of them are site-seeing. Pretty much anyone can find some sort of outdoor meeting group to join that suits their interest. The nice thing about these groups is that you get to do things that you don’t always do every day on your own. This is a really good way to create new friendships. And naturally you will let people know what you do, which always leads to referrals if you keep asking (in a nice way), but above all else just enjoy the activities and don’t try to force people to send them to you. When you make good connections and people respect you, they will send you referrals. And they won’t be agitated when you casually ask if they’ve heard any of their friends mention real estate lately.
Meeting groups for women. No, I haven’t tried to go to any of these yet, I’m a little scared that if I try to dress up like a woman I’ll get arrested on my there somehow, and then pictures will show up all over the Internet. But if you actually are a woman, there are a ton of groups in most cities for women to meet and participate in activieties together. Again, as I keep saying, be sure to tell everyone what you do and start conversations, but focus on having fun with the group and making new friends. Trust me, it works.
Joining sports teams for fun or competition. If you are athletic, or not, there are sports teams for all different levels of experience. From volleyball to basketball to running, there are so many types of sports groups you can join. And many of them are free groups that meet at local parks to play. Usually for a very reasonable fee you can also join teams that play indoors or in tournament. Have fun, get in shape (or stay in shape) and make new friends that you can network with.
Start your own business meeting group. Do you meet a lot of people in your community that own their own businesses? Have you noticed that some of these people are really passionate about what they do and just make you feel good when you are around them? Why not talk to your favorite business owners in the area and suggest that you meet once a month for lunch, coffee, or to take a walk in the park? You can all talk about what is working for you in your own businesses. Be very certain to let everyone know that you are putting together a group that is designed to be positive reinforcement. Complaining will not be tolerated. It is OK to discuss problems they are having, but to do so constructively so they can find a solution for them. If even one person makes it a habit to complain about their problems it will bring the whole group down. Owning your own business is about bettering your life. If someone in your group doesn’t have that attitude you will have to nicely ask them to leave. I know that sounds harsh, but a positive meeting will easily be turned into a negative experience by one person with the wrong attitude.
Start or join a business networking group that meets in unusual venues for business discussions. Awhile back I was part of a business networking group that met at t pool hall. We all had a few drinks and played pool. I got to know people very well that I had met at other more formal meetings because we had more of a chance to relax and talk. It was fun, and an easy environment to discuss business. There are so many different types of places you could meet that you wouldn’t normally think of as a place for business contacts to hold a meeting. Be creative. People like to have fun, you know? And if they can mix fun and business together, the whole event will appeal to people that would have otherwise not attended.
Join your local Chamber of Commerce. I have been to some really interesting Chamber events in a few different cities. They attract a diverse crowd, many of them being different types of business owners that live in your city. The membership fees are usually very reasonable, especially in smaller cities.
That’s all the ideas I can squeeze into this blog post today…
These are just a few suggestions that I just thought of. I know there are a million more ideas out there, and I’m sure many that I’d be interested in attending if I knew about them. A great website to checkout is Meetup.com, where members can create and join meetup groups in their city. It is completely free to join any of the existing groups. I have found many different groups in multiple cities through this website that I have attended.
So get out there and start networking, have fun, and make new friends. Mixing work and fun is OK. I’m serious. Try it some time…