Social Networking is one of the most important skills a new investor can develop. Of course, to ensure your efforts lead to actual results you need to do more than show up to an event and hand out cards.
Social networking has developed now both on online platforms and in-person meetings. Both are helpful in their own ways. Online lets you get in contact and build relations at a faster and more widespread pace. But, most find trust is built better in person once the introduction has been made. Practicing both will help you out in your long-term goals in building your networking.
Resources that we have found useful include; biggerpockets.com and our local real estate groups.
First, let’s outline our Do’s;
1. Find your local groups
It can be as easy as a Google search to find groups in your local area. NWCLA (Northern Worcester County Landlord Association), Black Diamond Real Estate Group, MassLandlords, are just a few examples. Also BiggerPockets has a tool that puts these in a place easily viewable for any area. I’ve supplied the link here. Some charge a fee to get into the event while others charge membership dues on an annual basis.
2. Meet New People
This is very scary for some people. You need to find a way to break out of your comfort zone to be successful with this one. Your network needs to be growing consistently and it needs many different kinds of people to be seriously effective. The good news is that the more you do this the easier it becomes for you.
3. Create a Plan
When attending most of these meetings you will find there are times for networking, but they also have discussion topic and presentation. Most even have rules against pressure sales techniques during their events. You are there to learn and get to know people not directly sell. But, of course you are hoping that this will lead to further business and relationships that can assist your business. The latter usually consists of contractors and other supporting fields to real estate investors and professionals. They are usually not at these meetings, but they are usually easier because they are offering services. Screening their work is usually the harder part. Business relationships in this case would include other investors, managers, and real estate agents that would directly help you in your business and investment ability. Go in knowing what it is you want to walk out with. That way you leverage the time you have to the best of your ability.
When trying to create this network it will be tempting to try to sell yourself to people. It is not usually the best case of action. You want to listen to these people and build a working relationship. Ask them open-ended questions, find out what their goals are, and be genuine in your interest. This will make you more appealing to talk to for other people. They will tell you and in turn they will want to know more about you. This will open the door for how you might be able to help them which creates an opportunity for you. The way I like to look at it is that them giving you their business is them helping you. Until you create a relationship with them, how are you going to ask them for a favor? Find a way to help them first and bring value. The best way to bring value to them is to find out what their problems are. Maybe they can’t find any good contractors, maybe they can’t find deals, whatever it is, if you can provide them with an answer, you have given them value in your relationship.
5. Stay in Contact
Some people will give out their business cards, meet people, build the beginnings of the relationship, promise things, then will never get back into contact with these people and never follow through on promises. In this business integrity is everything. Whether or not you know it your word weighs a lot with people and if you don’t follow up people will forget you very easily. Utilize social media and follow up, invite them to other meetings, follow through on your promises. Word of mouth will take care of the rest.
Now, let’s cover the Don’ts;
1. Don’t Give Up
Social Networking is not as easy as it seems. It takes time, effort, and a lot of work. People have to force themselves out of their comfort zones and make a genuine connection with new people. The very basis of it is making the connection then trying to find a way to make a mutually beneficial relationship. Most will go into these meetings asking the question: How can I benefit from this? When at first you should be going in with the idea of; How can I benefit someone else? You don’t have to buy into their business, there are many ways to benefit others business that shouldn’t cost you anything. As you build your network, it can be that very network that you over as a benefit.
2. Don’t be a Wall Flower
This one is pretty straightforward, if you don’t go up to people you will not be successful at networking. Going up to people you don’t know may feel unnatural at first. The more you do it the easier it will become. Breaking the ice is hard but, remember they are at the event for the same reasons and most investors are looking to do the same thing. Use open ended questions about what they do to get the conversation started.
3. Don’t Go Alone
This one is not set in stone, but it is a great tip to getting more comfortable with networking. When you bring someone you know you always have some back up. They will hold you accountable and usually can make the conversation run more smoothly. Also as an added benefit, once you get comfortable you can split up and cover more ground and meet more people.
4. Don’t Forget Social Media Presence
In today’s world your online presence can make all the difference. When people look you up, that image of you can build trust or destroy it all at once. Make sure when communicating online to avoid offensive language and sarcasm. Emotions are right next to impossible to read online and emojis and such can come off as unprofessional. So good practices online are just as important as in person.
5. Don’t Lie
As mentioned previously, integrity is everything in this business. If you lie about experience or make up lies about what you know people will find out and your integrity and business will take the hit. Research your craft consistently and to make sure you are up to date and knowledgeable about topics around your business. There is lingo and information that you should know and it can only benefit your business and networking to become familiar with it.