By Scott Newman
Every real estate professional has experienced it: those slow times, the off-months, the hot streaks that suddenly go cold… call them what you will but when things turn sluggish at the office, it can not only be a confidence and momentum-killer but also a disaster for your business plan. So how do you avoid the roller coaster of income fluctuations typical of our industry? For me, that question can be answered with one word: networking.
But merely handing out business cards or posting flyers to community bulletin boards won’t put money in the bank. To really make networking your solution to spotty earnings, I propose thinking outside the box. With a little creativity, you can truly use the practice to generate a more consistent flow of business.
As REALTORS®, we all love to schmooze. It’s basically written into the job description. It’s also one of the best ways to meet new people and generate leads. Who’s to say you’ve got to wait for the next Facebook invite to come through before you have an opportunity to stretch your schmoozing skills? Imagine for a moment that you were the one organizing the party instead of just being an attendee. In fact, why wait for an event when you can plan one of your own at the very time your business needs a little boost?
Along with some referral partners, I’ve been hosting a quarterly networking event for the past year that’s gotten rave reviews. Setting up the event is relatively painless; I partner with a local bar or restaurant and bring in sponsors to cover the bulk of the costs. Then, I invite a wonderful mix of local prospects, business connections, and past clients. Everyone has a few drinks and a bite to eat and it’s a great way to stay top-of-mind when it comes time for people to recommend your services. In fact, I have closed several deals with people I’ve met at my networking events already!
With the increased prevalence of online listing services and FSBOs, consumers now have higher expectations for real estate professionals than ever before. Not only do we have to be great at what we do, but we also have to make consumers understand why it’s worth their time and money to use our services. In today’s real estate climate, it’s no longer good enough to know about the buildings themselves; we’ve got to have an intimate and expansive knowledge of the entire neighborhood we work in as well.
But even being a possessor of this knowledge isn’t enough; you’ve got to then go out and let potential clients know just how smart you are. What if there was a way to showcase your skill set while promoting local businesses and meeting new clients at the same time? Did I mention that this as-yet-unnamed method is completely free?
So here’s the free plan: Hook up with a small, local business like a wine shop or specialty food store, and ask them if they’d be interested in hosting a tasting for you and a close network of clients and friends. Most business owners will jump at the opportunity to be introduced to new customers in such an intimate setting and will often be happy to cover most—if not all—of the costs.
The best part about this networking technique is that it works twofold: You’ll meet potential clients who will forever remember you as the REALTOR® who gave them amazing local food and wine, and you’ll also get your name into the community as someone who promotes the wonderful businesses that make the neighborhood great.
Scott Newman is the broker-owner of Newman Realty in Chicago. Connect with Scott at www.newmanknowschicago.com or @newmanrealty.