If you are looking for ways to grow your business and generate leads, you need to network. Not everyone is comfortable meeting new people and talking about their business. The odds are that in every networking meeting or group you will find people just like yourself. Like anything else, the more you do something, the more comfortable you become. Networking doesn’t have to be stressful or grueling if you have the right frame of mind. You are there to meet new people or reinforce the contacts you have already made. Networking can open doors for you quicker than anything else you can do in business. Joining a group and waiting for people to come to you is not enough. If you want to get the most out of your networking, there are a few things that you need to do:
1. Show up: Sounds obvious enough, right? Half of life is showing up and being available. Networking shouldn’t be treated as a punishment or something you are forced to do. One of the best parts of being in real estate is that you are your own boss. That being said, there are certain things that you might not like to do, but know you should. Networking is one of them. Networking doesn’t mean showing up at realtor’s offices with business cards in hand asking how you can get deals. You can do this if you want, but there are better ways to network. Between local networking groups and larger real estate investing clubs, you can reach more people quicker than ever before. This starts with making a commitment to show up at meetings that can help your business. Think about how much easier real estate would be if you had attorneys, realtors, mortgage brokers and fellow investors call you for deals. The more people see, you the more comfortable they will become and the greater chance they will want to work with you. This all starts with showing up.
2. Go in with a plan: Don’t just go to a meeting for the food or to get out of the house. If you are going to be there you need to get something out of it. Every meeting you go to, you should have an objective. This could mean finding a local electrician through your networking contacts. It could mean finding a hard money lender at an investor meeting. Whatever your business needs at the time, you should make a point to focus on it. Without a plan you will float around the room, and by the time it is over wonder why you were there. This doesn’t mean you should ignore people or brush off people you are talking to, but make sure you follow your plan. These meetings are filled with people in your local area who are doing business. They will have access to whomever and whatever you are looking for. Don’t wait until the next meeting to make an introduction. Make a plan for the meeting and follow it.
3. Meet new people: One of your objectives with every meeting should be to meet one or two new people. Most investment club meetings have an extended cocktail hour before the meeting starts. If you play this hour right, it could be the most productive hour of your week. Have fresh business cards at the ready and prepare a brief synopsis about you and your business. From there you should meet as many people as you can. Some you know immediately will not be a good fit for your business while others can provide real value. Take a business card in return and move on to the next contact. Make notes on the back of the card of anything interesting they said to you. This will be good to have when you follow up. One of the goals for networking is to meet new people. If you show up and sit in your seat for two hours you won’t get anything out of it.
4. Cement existing relationships: Meeting new people is important but it is also important to reach out to people you have meet at previous meetings. You never know who will work with in the future. The real estate business has a funny way of pairing people up. If you spoke with someone for ten minutes last meeting don’t walk by them without stopping to say hello. It is with constant repetition that relationships develop. It may take until the five meeting or so before it clicks with someone and they open up to you. After every meeting you should make a list of who you spoke with and a little bit about the conversation. If you can reference a previous conversation you better believe that makes a great impression.
5. Follow up: All the good work you do at a meeting can be quickly erased if you don’t follow up. Regardless of what you have going on the morning after a meeting you need to follow up. This can consist of a well-crafted email, a phone call or even a quick text. They may not respond back but that is on them. You never want to see a contact after the meeting and have them ask you why you didn’t reach out to them. With monthly investment club meetings you have four weeks before you see a new contact again. Plenty can change in that time. By following up that evening or the next morning you are fresh on their mind. They will remember you or the conversation and are much more likely to act. Ask to meet for a quick cup of coffee or lunch. This is how business relationships are made or cemented. If you don’t follow up you won’t get the full value of networking.
Networking through investment clubs or local groups should be fun. It is your chance to interact with real people in your area. Go in with the right frame of mind and get the most out of it. The best investors know how to network.