Sorry, Real Estate Marketers…
But Networking And Relationship-Building Are Much More Important For Success…
Why you need to become very good at building relationships
Many introverts in real estate investing, dread getting out and talking to people. I get it because I’m an introvert as well; most people are. But, business and the marketplace is about relationships. You need other people and they need you. There’s no such thing as a business behind closed doors. Even when it’s perceived that way, guaranteed there was a lot of human interaction to get where they’re at….. Very few make it by sitting in the basement and never talking to another soul, and pounding away at their computer everyday.
This is 100% true for real estate investing as well.
Being a good marketer won’t do it. Sure, you can learn to get a sellers attention… But what about after that? What about closing the deal and the number of great people you need to help you close, sell, and secure private money?
Getting leads is one thing, but ongoing success in real estate investing is another…. And ongoing success takes great networking skills.
First, to succeed in real estate investing (REI) you need to get a deal. And getting a good deal in REI, doesn’t just happen. You’re either out talking to individual sellers directly, or networking with agents to get a deal. And part of salesmanship is to get them to like you and remember you (see the book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” – Considered one of the best sales and networking books out there).
Secondly, if you want to get very successful in real estate investing, you want to have private funding in place. You want to know the individuals who have deep pockets and will throw money at you for good deals. But those individuals don’t just throw money at any good deal.
Good deals are out there, but why should they give you any money?
How do you even find these individuals?
The answer to that is networking.
What Networking Isn’t…
You could be making ongoing mistakes when you’re networking, and wasting time and opportunities. If you sit back and watch a networking event, you’ll see about 80% of the room do one of two things:
- They pass out business cards to as many people as they can
- They sit back in the corner by themselves.
The second one obviously doesn’t work when you’re waiting for something to happen. Waiting for an opportunity to walk towards you doesn’t work.
Passing out business cards is also a bust. Most, if not all, people receiving your business card will toss it in the trash.
I actually do keep some of the business cards I gather at REI meetups, just in case. However, I can’t remember ever calling any of them. In fact, when I actually go through the stack that’s in my desk, I often say to myself as I go through each one, “I have no idea who this, I don’t remember getting it”. The reason why just passing cards out doesn’t work is that….
…. It’s not memorable.
A better way to grow your network
The key to being memorable and getting people to call you…. is to establish a connection with individuals.
There are multiple ways to do this, and the book by Bob Burg, “Endless Referrals”, has some great techniques on how to do this… but a simple method is just to connect with one person in the room with a long and deep conversation.
You just need to connect with one person at a time at these events.
That one person remembers you over all the other ten business cards they receive. In fact, you don’t even have to pass out business cards. You can just exchange contact info right here at the event.
Connection, rather than a stack of cards being passed out is the way to network.
It’s not enough to have a Rolodex of hundreds of phone numbers. You need to know the people behind the contact info. It’s about the people, not the cards/phone-number/email-address. I have been there, where I call a card that I have on my desk, hoping the person can help. They either never get back to me, or they keep brief because they don’t know me nor remember me.
Your network must know you.
Know one remembers a card handed to them.
That’s what everyone else does.
But sometimes, that’s also isn’t enough. Because networking is a constant effort. You don’t show up to one real estate investing meetup and expect to have a huge network that remembers you.
The “how-to” in networking
So, we’ve established that building relationships, is key to real estate investing, and that networking isn’t about going to meetups and handing out business cards, and that building your long-term and powerful network is about connecting with people…
So, how do establish and keep your network remembering you?
It starts with them… and ends with them
When I go to a real estate investing meetup, my goal is not to meet as many people as I can. It’s to meet 1-2 people and have deeper conversations with them than others.
I do this with two simple things:
- I ask about them
- I listen and ask follow-up questions about them
In other words… make them the center of the conversation
This is taken right from the famous book “How to Win Friends and Influence People”. Doing this means you do very little talking, but it guarantees that they will walk and remember you above all others. The truth is, no one really cares about you. They are in it for themselves and they want something out of you. Self-interest is a big motivator. And getting them talking about themselves means them more likely to work with you when you needed it.
that’s the key to networking; Deep conversations with individuals you are searching for. Get them talking. Listen. Remember what they said.
Take a step further
Now, does it end there?
It can I suppose. But you did all that work to find the person, to ask them questions, you hardly spoke about yourself (which is very hard to do), and you listened…
… you might as well gain full mileage and finish the task.
You finish by contacting them after the event. This is the slam-dunk, and the way to keep your network close to you. Contact them and follow up with the initial conversation. Guaranteed, if they were talking about themselves and you follow up with those same topics from the conversation before, by asking, “how did that….. Go?”, “How’s your….?”, etc… it’ll get them smiling and talking again over the phone.
You can then follow up with your own requests anytime because, after this, they will remember you and be more prone to help you out rather than the complete stranger how handed them a business card.
Does this work 100% of the time? Does it mean that every contact you create will help you when you need..? No. But it works much much better than passing out business cards.
Offer them what they want
The last thing to talk about is how to create deals with people by offering what they need/want.
Creating relationships is almost always a win-win type of deal. Meaning, people get something out of you like you get something out of them. It’s just how this world works.
Few are truly altruistic.
If you’re looking for an expert in your market to learn from (networking is the best way to find that person), you’ll have to, not only create deep conversation and follow up (like what we talked about above), but also offer something an exchange to learn from him/her.
No one gets a free lunch, and you should learn how to always offer something you have rather than beg.
So, figure out what they need and see if you can arrange it. This takes listening to their story and putting the pieces together.
For example: Do they need a property manager for their rentals? Do they need a project manager to look over the rehab? Do they need someone to fix the landscape? Do they need someone to find more deals via door knocking? Do they need someone to respond to cold leads from a mailer?
Whatever it is, see if you can do it and offer it in exchange to learn from them.
Networking is no secret…
…. if you do the opposite of what others are doing, and instead, work more like an introvert and find the 1-2 people to establish a strong relationship with.
I would start by searching the room to determine who might be the bigger players or the person you’re looking for first. Find the person you want to grow in your network, walk up to them (this takes a little courage, I know), ask great questions to him/her, listen, follow up, and make friends in this industry.
….. You’ll be light-years ahead of those passing out business cards