Throughout your career, you’ll need to continue this network-building, back to basics, sphere of influence marketing
By Marilyn Blume
As a real estate agent, we rely on our expertise as well as the relationship we have built through the years to have a prosperous career. Regardless of where you are in your profession (first job, career change, successful in your field), it’s always important to consciously expand your network. I make an effort to meet new people through volunteer work, friends of friends as well as work-related events and my favorite spots in my neighborhood, like the gym, nail salon and hairdresser. In addition, as the years go by, it is a great time to reconnect with many of my friends from childhood, college, first job, etc. With the help of social media , I make warm calls that contain a meaningful opening such as a child’s acceptance to a particular university, referencing a quote of theirs from a recent article or something newsworthy going on within their neighborhood.
This strategy is one we should all employ. If you’re new to real estate, it’s spring board to launch your career. If you’re a seasoned veteran, it’s a good reminder not to forget the basics. Don’t forget to work it in these six areas that are common to just about every agent.
Those friendships you acquire when you are young and carefree are pure in nature. Whether you played on a Little League team together or played hopscotch during recess, you created a lifelong bond. Many times as we start our careers, these relationships drift due to career and family demands, moving away, and our busy lives. However, these are the easy relationships to pick back up because you shared common experiences together that you remember fondly when life was simpler as a child.
I also like to have some reason to call. For example, I heard that an old friend’s daughter was accepted to a particular competitive college, so I opened the conversation with congratulations on that. After that, we discussed what we are doing in the present that led me to talk about my real estate business in detail. A few weeks later, I received a referral call from one of his clients who was looking to sell her property!
LinkedIn is a great resource to follow your connections’ careers. Reading about a newsworthy law case provided me with an easy opening to reconnect to a college friend. Our friendship in college revolved around academics and in particular law. He helped get me my first internship at the St. Louis Bar Association via introduction, something I will always be grateful for. He continued his legal education and is now a well-known attorney. After watching an interview with him on a news show, I reached out to congratulate him and reminded him how he helped me secure that internship so many years ago. He replied immediately, and we were able to catch up on both of our lives including my career as a real estate agent. Our past relationship matters as he knows my work ethic and my dedication to projects because we had worked together at the bar association. Going forward, he will recommend me when appropriate.
I am involved in two non-profit organizations whose missions resonate within me, and I am passionate about adding value to them. Through these groups, I have met numerous professionals who share these common values in varied fields. Accordingly, I have reached out to many of them to have lunch, coffee or a drink to learn more about them in both their personal lives as well as their profession or areas of expertise and vice versa. By doing so, I am growing my resources to best service my clients while these new contacts can refer me to their network as well. Hiring a real estate agent is a very personal relationship that involves a lot of trust . Meeting other professionals who have similar values to mine helps to align myself with other professionals who value integrity, intelligence, morality, creative thinking and dedication.
My friend Kim, a money manager (one of the first friends I met at my first job out of college), and I have remained good friends for almost 30 years! She regularly hosts lunches and dinners for her sphere of influence to get together and connect. Through these events, I have met many interesting people with whom I have developed independent relationships. Mutual friends are a great way to expand your circle because if your friends like them; they usually possess qualities that are important to you as well.
It is never too early to start your professional network. Someone once told me years ago to collect a business card from everyone I met and write a few notes to help me remember them. Unbeknownst to me back then, it set the stage to help me build my network, especially on LinkedIn. I send out a monthly newsletter to all my connections and then pick a few to call. I usually begin these calls from the notes on their business cards to ease into the conversation and so they can remember me.
Meeting people in a casual setting is also a great way to expand your network. I, along with many others, regularly attend a local pilates studio. Before and after class, we chat, and we discuss our personal and professional lives as it pertains to our daily schedule (what class we take). As most people are interested in real estate, I am always ready to discuss the current market conditions as well as my current activity (my listings and my buyers). Many times these casual conversations result in referrals or directly with someone at the studio. In addition, my hairdresser, colorist and manicurist are also great sources of referrals. When someone thinks of you, you want them to think real estate. Creating and maintaining your social network is an essential component to sustaining a successful sales career. Consequently, many of us are drawn to this field because we enjoy social interaction and bringing people together. However, mining your sphere can fall by the wayside if you’re not careful. I find it very helpful to create a business plan that holds me accountable for talking to a certain number of people weekly from each bucket mentioned above. And to take all of these tips to the next level, host your own event to bring your varied network together and further strengthen your relationships.