Networking is essential for business and personal growth. To get the most out of time spent on this skill, however, requires a strategy with precision and aim. Networking is all about the give and take, and so the most important people to connect with are the ones you can also help.
While building a real estate portfolio worth millions over the last eight years and brokering a few deals before then, I have gained a lot of insight on how to network and which connections would be beneficial for real estate agents and brokers. Of the five Ws (who, what, where, why, when), the most important one our breed of professionals should focus on while crafting their strategy is, undoubtedly, who.
Real Estate Agents
We all have a choice on whether we want to greet our colleagues with contempt or a handshake. Much more is gained from a firm grip and a friendly smile. It is a lonely world out there, and your fellow agents can make it much easier by sharing lessons learned, best practices and possibly referrals for clients whom they can not help.
On social media and networking platforms, these connections serve as a good source of news and inspiration. With your contributions, they will also learn about the industries you specialize in, which makes it easier for them to send you the right referrals.
The same goes for building relationships with developers. Trust is required before the developer knows you aren't a real estate agent who will charge a hefty commission, and the agent knows the developer won’t jostle them out of the deal.
Instead of jeering at each other, consciously or unconsciously, each side can gain more by being genuinely affable. Developers can inform their network about opportunities before other agents learn about them, and real estate agents can get these units sold faster, relieving developers of massive debt.
Like many professionals, real estate agents can easily make the mistake of thinking they will cut costs by doing their own accounting. It is a big mistake to make because agents really should spend the time focused on their own core competencies, like closing a sale or brokering a deal.
Agents who own their own companies and hire staff can benefit even further from an accountant's back-office services, such as payroll and financial reporting. Tethering them to your office throughout the year can drastically reduce the amount of time spent on year-end. Accounts are more likely to be properly segregated and classified for the right tax category.
When completing a real estate transaction, buyers want to know their real estate agent and lawyer work well together. It is much easier to garner this trust if the two professionals have already met and have a good rapport.
Agents need to work closely with the lawyer from the beginning to ensure the agreement of purchase and sale is written up correctly. Both the lawyer and agent can also help each other gather documentation or other requirements for the client’s lender.
In the absence of good communication between the two, however, clients can end up being the middlemen, which dilapidates the client relationship.
As an agent, it’s important to understand the lender may not always be able to do what you need them to — their hands are tied by certain regulations. Remember, though, that both parties have the same goal, which is to keep client volumes high. That is a good enough reason to make the relationship work.
Agents must foster a relationship with their lender such that the lender feels safe to be honest and transparent about what they can or can’t do. Ultimately, both sides want to avoid the most dreaded outcome, which is rejection after preapproval on a loan.
Regardless of how many loans the lender can get approved, when you come across lenders who always do their best work and are accountable, continue to refer clients their way. Each client’s financial position is unique; the outcome of one application is not a good indicator of what happens with the next client’s application.
There are many cases of homeowners would like to sell their property and can not because they are in debt with a second mortgage. This is when real estate agents can use their talents to create a win-win situation for the client and property manager. Clients who are not ready to sell their homes still have the option of renting them out. Property managers are needed to take on the headache of maintaining the property and managing tenants.
Learning the ins and outs of property management as a real estate agent could also pay big dividends as a side income. The real estate market can be fickle. When times are uncertain, property management is one of the most sensible alternatives for agents to pick up.
A professional skill set which real estate agents may find a little harder to adopt is architecture, which is why having a rock-star architect at your disposal should become a priority in your networking blueprint.
Architects are qualified to inspect the nuts and bolts of a property and can make informed recommendations for home improvements. This skill comes in handy, especially for clients who want to buy fixer-upper homes and the real estate agents who need to process their purchase agreement at breakneck speed.
After setting our sites on the right network, our next priority is to zero in on their needs. We may not be able to assist them professionally right away; in that case, think creatively and look for a postern door to hurtle through. Find opportunities outside of their work life. Perhaps they could use some help on a fundraiser or event they are planning. Purposefully creating the right network can plant your seeds for success as a real estate professional. Harvesting those seeds with a give and take mentality can provide you with a fruit-bearing grove.