Networking 101 - How to be the Most Popular Person in the Room
When I first started in real estate, I used to spend crazy amounts of money on print advertising. We tried it all, and then some! Newspapers, local magazines, national magazines, mailouts, and more. I felt like much of what I did in that initial year or two provided a quick education on which marketing truly works.
If you want the most "bang for your buck", face-to-face networking is, in my opinion, the most effective single strategy that you can implement. The good news is that it doesn't have to cost you a cent.
One small step that you can take is to actually GO OUT when you are invited to a party, gathering, or just to hang out with your friends. When you take the opportunity to discuss your business in these gatherings, this alone should bring you several transactions over time.
Here's the best part:
People ALREADY want to talk about your business!
If you are a real estate agent or broker, I promise you that most people are interested in how the market is doing in your area! In fact, I have noticed that it often reminds me of the old "E.F. Hutton" commercials from the early 80's: "My broker is E.F. Hutton, and E.F. Hutton says," at which point everyone in the room stops talking to hear what is going to be said. The tagline/motto for the ads was, "When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen."
YOU can be the "E.F. Hutton" at pretty much any get-together just by virtue of being a real estate professional.
I would hazard a guess right now that the most talked-about topic at any party is either the Presidential election or the economy (gas prices, etc.). It's not difficult to segue into real estate when discussing either of these topics. Here are a couple of lines off the top of my head which would work well:
"I also hope gas prices come down. I do a lot of driving with my job." Of course, they will then ask you what you do for a living.
"No matter which candidate wins, I hope they can get the economy back on track. I am tired of the media doom and gloom personally. Our business is doing pretty well, but not as good as it was a couple of years ago." Again, they will inquire about what you do.
I think just about any discussion can be moved into your area of expertise in seconds if you are paying attention. However, PLEASE understand that this doesn't give you license to force it, though. If someone mentions their dead relative, don't say, "Sorry to hear about your dead step-cousin. On another note, the real estate market in Austin is alive and well!"
The same thing goes for those in the mortgage business. Very few people have a full working understanding of the forces that control mortgage rates, along with the subprime meltdown, down payment assistance programs, and so on. If you can package a presentation for the average person that is understandable and not terribly long, you have just become that person's mortgage expert. Heck, I have a degree in business with a minor in economics and I don't even understand all of it myself.
When I am around friends of friends, or people I barely know, or complete strangers, I sometimes challenge myself to bring real estate into the conversation. Believe me, it's not that hard. If you were an engineer or an accountant, I can assure you that most people wouldn't be fascinated with your stories. However, as a Realtor, everyone wants to get into your head. Either they own a home, they are thinking of buying, or they want to know if the time is right to invest. Be that expert for them! You will reap the benefits.
Thanks for reading!