The term ‘networking’ may conjure up queasy sensations of glad-handing used car salesmen, but it’s necessary for growing our pipeline and it doesn’t have to be unpleasant. In fact, networking events can – and should – be enjoyable, as they give you a chance to add to our pipeline and present your best self to the world.
But if the thought of working a room during such an event still makes you uneasy, never fear. Take our tips for the fundamentals of networking so you can be both comfortable and successful.
- Lay the groundwork. The best way to feel comfortable at any gathering is to already be engaged in your community. Sponsor local festivals or little league teams, volunteer with the non-profit charity of your choice, or join a civic organization. First – and possibly best – you will build a sense of community as well as making yourself known as supporter of your hometown, but the secondary benefit is you’ll be sure to know other attendees at most networking events. You won’t go in cold.
- Meet new people! This should be a no-brainer but it’s easier for most of us to stay in our comfort zones and talk with the people we already know. Sure, it’s fine to greet those people when you arrive, but use them as a springboard to meet others. Ask your acquaintances to introduce you to their professional contacts at events and when greeting someone for the first time, always ask questions. Most of us like to talk about ourselves so it’s a good way to get others to open up, but inevitably, they will ask what YOU do, and then you can talk about real estate.
- Strategically target prospects. There’s nothing wrong with being picky about the events you attend. Time, after all, is our most important commodity, so be selective. If first time homebuyers are your target audience, look for networking events that are focused at young couples. If you’ve got your eye on specific clients – this might apply to those of you marketing luxury properties – do your research in advance to see who is sponsoring or on the host list.
- Pick events you enjoy. Networking events don’t have to branded networking events. Pick an activity you enjoy and treat that as a networking opportunity. If you like golf, for instance, sign up for a local scrambles tournament – it’s a great way to be matched with people you don’t already know.
Finally, it’s okay to take a wingman with you. Choose a friend who isn’t in the real estate industry, so you can cross-pollinate each other’s contacts. It’s an ideal way to ensure you come out of the event with new prospects and enjoy yourself in the process.