Thanks to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, and others, social networking has become an integral part of our everyday lives. But for real estate professionals, connecting with others via social networks is only part of the equation when it comes to running a profitable real estate firm. In fact, taking the time to network face to face with colleagues and peers is more important than ever before.
“This is the loneliest ‘people career’ on the planet,” says Ed Krafchow, chairman and CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Mason McDuffie Real Estate, in the June 2014 issue of Real Estate magazine. “For a real estate broker, there is real isolation within your firm and with the competitors around you. To get amongst your peers and listen to their solutions to like-kind problems is extraordinarily meaningful.”
And with the 2014 REALTORS® Conference & Expo in New Orleans next month, now’s as good a time as any to brush up on your networking skills.
Here, Whitney LaCosta, executive vice president of Coach REALTORS®, shares her top five tips for turning any event into a successful networking experience.
1. Go It Alone. While showing up to an event with no one by your side may not be your idea of a good time, opting to attend an event on your own can be hugely beneficial. “There’s always a feeling of security and comfort going to an event with others, but I find that going to an event alone is more productive,” says LaCosta. “From the moment you enter the room, you’re forced to get out of your comfort zone and start networking.”
2. Sit with People You Don’t Know. If you’re stuck like glue to only those people you know, you’re missing out on a great opportunity to foster pertinent business connections. “Always make it a point to sit at a table where you don’t know anyone. And walk around the table, introduce yourself and shake everyone’s hand before sitting down.” It’s also important to be prepared for these situations ahead of time. “Before you get to an event, think of a few questions that can be used as conversation starters,” adds LaCosta.
3. Strike Up a Conversation. Whether you’re in line for the elevator, waiting to use the bathroom or standing in line at the bar (if the event has one), use your time wisely. No matter where you find yourself standing around, take the time to introduce yourself to the person in line behind you.
Related: Don’t miss these additional tips for even more ways to step up your networking game.
4. Take Advantage of Every Opportunity. “If there’s a photographer at the event, grab a few people and ask for a photo,” says LaCosta. “Not only is this an opportunity to get recognition for being at the event, it’s also great PR for you and your company.”
5. Follow-up. How many times have you found the business cards you dutifully collected at the bottom of your suitcase weeks after the actual event took place? To keep this from becoming a regular occurrence, have a system in place to follow-up in a timely manner—whether it’s a tried and true paper and pencil system or an app for your phone (LaCosta has found great success with CamCard). “I simply take a picture of the business card and the app imports the information into a database as well as downloading the info to the contacts on my phone.”
As the real estate industry—and consumers and practitioners alike—continue to become more mobile, it’s important to understand that good, old-fashioned face-to-face networking can’t be replaced. “For us, especially being in the Midwest, following trends in other markets is really important,” says Vince Leisey, president of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Ambassador Real Estate in a recent interview. Leisey notes that networking gives his firm an important leg up in their market. “The people I meet and learn from give us the competitive edge.”
If you’re attending the 2014 REALTORS® Conference & Expo next month, you won’t want to miss RISMedia’s 19th annual Power Broker Forum on Friday, November 7, from 1:30 - 3 p.m. at the Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. Open to all NAR full- and day-attendees, during this year’s forum, titled, “Power Broker Strategies for Enhancing the Consumer Experience,” several of the nation’s most successful industry leaders—Sherry Chris, president & CEO, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate; Harold Crye, co-founder & CEO, Crye-Leike, REALTORS®; J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO, John L. Scott Real Estate; Glenn “Chip” Gardner, vice president of special initiatives, GARDNER REALTORS; Dan Kruse, president, CENTURY 21 Affiliated; Matt Widdows, CEO and founder, HomeSmart International and HomeSmart Phoenix—will break down their strategies for success.
Later that evening, RISMedia will hold its annual exclusive honors ceremony dinner for the nation’s Top 500 Brokers who were showcased in its annual Power Broker Report & Survey earlier in the year. During the invitation-only event, awards for RISMedia’s National Homeownership Award, sponsored by Bank of America Home Loans; ‘On the Shoulders of Giants’ Award, sponsored by RE/MAX, LLC; Real Estate Leadership Award, sponsored by Buffini & Company; and the Tech Titan Award, sponsored by Dell, also will be presented.
To learn more about this year’s Power Broker events during NAR annual, visit our event page.