By Lee Davenport
Jen Du Plessis is a top producer and in the 1 percent who have sold their methods to Salesforce. Yes, she’s that good. She has shared the stage with Tony Robbins, Les Brown, and Brian Buffini to name just a few. But don’t be fooled by her celebrity network, Du Plessis is open to sharing her 35 years of career knowledge over a King of Pops popsicle. I know because that is just what we did!
I had the wonderful opportunity to sit in on Jen’s keynote breakout session at the 2018 National Association of Minority Mortgage Bankers of America conference. Then we grabbed a popsicle and chatted further about the secrets to networking success along with Whitney Du Plessis, a rising star who has Jen as a “momentor” (my spin on the “momanager” term popularized by Kris Jenner).
Jen Du Plessis (seated) with her daughter Whitney Du Plessis.
If you missed Jen’s session, then let me fill you in on some of her best practices, four of which I have included below:
Ask a Different Question
Do you know the most typical question asked at networking events? Let’s all say it together:
“What do you do?”
After asking what a person does for a living, have you ever noticed the glazed-over look that follows by both people in the conversation? Sometimes the look comes from boredom, and other times the look comes from preconceived notions about that job. Both boredom and preconceived notions can inadvertently prevent you from having a rich relationship because assumptions (whether true or false) are likely made based on one’s title.
As a better alternative, Jen encourages you to ask:
“Who do you help?”
Knowing simply a job title doesn’t give the best insight if you are purposefully networking to build strategic and rich relationships. For example, notice the difference between:
“I sell homes,” or, “I am a sales agent/broker.”
“I help recent college grads pay down student loan debt and start building a real estate portfolio of wealth,” or, “I help our veterans make a local home using all of the available real estate programs to thank them for their service.”
The conversation can quickly change from “Oh, I have a cousin/sister/friend who is also an agent,” (in essence, closing the connection door) to become, “Wow, you work with veterans? I know two veterans who could use your help.”
Be Genuinely Curious
Curiosity may have killed the cat but it will only help your business connections thrive.
@Maialisa, 2016. pexabay.com
Jen suggests, “Go wide and deep.” Move away from just knowing basic stats about the people you’re networking with, such as their company name and number of years in the business. Instead, Jen recommends the classic, interchangeable acronyms FORD (family, occupation, recreation, and dreams) or FROG (family, recreation, occupation, goals) to really get to know what makes the people you’re network with “tick.” When we understand more about the things that people hold near and dear—like family, work, dreams and hobbies—then we build rapport. You will begin to know, like, and trust them, and vice versa, helping to open a floodgate of business opportunities.
Go From the Life of the Party to Power Partner
Some networking events have the champagne flowing, food galore, and even a dance floor better than most parties you attend. But don’t forget your mission.
“It’s not a party for you, it’s your brand,” says Whitney Du Plessis. Do not let the sparkle of the event, distract you from the ultimate goal of making rich relationship connects.
During Jen’s conference session, she said, “Network to find new ‘power partners’ instead of networking to get business.” Power partners are people with whom you have a mutual commitment of sending each other leads on a regular basis. It’s a relationship that has a one-and-done feel to it.
You may be hesitant to attend networking events because you feel people are always cramming their agenda, products, or services down your throat without any reciprocity. That’s “no bueno.” Do not be afraid to excuse yourself from such leeches. Instead, Jen recommends you seek out and connect with people who are credible AND you like. You do this by inquiring, “How did you help your last client?” Then listen very carefully. The answers that show how they treat people and serve their clients will indicate if you are connecting with someone who is competent, reliable, and responsive, or money-hungry and difficult. Jen encourages you to ask yourself whether this person is “complementing or complicating.” If they bring complications, which includes blame, fault-finding, laziness, pessimism, or inactivity, then it is probably time to say, “Have a nice day!”
Jen went on to say, “If you are always adding new people to your database but not actually engaging with them, soon you will find yourself running out of people to work with. Try engaging and creating relationships instead of just doing tasks.” Thus, you should commit to memory the 4 Laws of Follow-Up if you have not yet.
Personal Videos are the New Handwritten Notes
It may seem like mail is a dying form of connecting with people. However, a handwritten note may stay on a desk, bathroom mirror, refrigerator door, or bedside table for years to come. Why? Because personalized words of appreciation or encouragement are impactful and go a long way in you staying top of mind with the recipient.
Jen takes it a step further and sends personalized video messages in addition to handwritten notes and thoughtful gifts. Case in point: Instead of a dull, “Happy Birthday!” comment on social media, Jen goes beyond others and sends a short yet special video message that is personalized to put a smile on the networking friend’s face—for whatever the occasion may be.
In line with Jen’s point, I, like you, have seen many birthdays go by, but one of the most memorable acknowledgements I’ve received came from a networking partner who sent me a video via text message of her then-toddler son saying, “Habby Bfirtda Auntey Le-Le”. Precious!
Undoubtedly, video has become the new king of engagement on social media. With our everyday smartphones being used to create amazing films, there’s no reason for us to not use this influential form of engagement.
Jen is a wealth of knowledge so I encourage you to check out her book, Launch!, because it goes into more detail then this short article.
I would love to hear from you. Give me a shout on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Google+, or by visiting LearnWithLee.Realtor. Want more of the best practices from our nation’s top producers? Grab your copy of the short read, Profit with Your Personality. And, be sure to tell the real estate agents you know to get a copy of the 5-star rated workbook, Plan to Win!, to transform their real estate sales game plan. Here’s to your success.
Dr. Lee Davenport is an Atlanta-based real estate coach who trains agents, teams, brokerages, and other business organizations on how to use today’s technology to work smarter. Join Lee’s free RE Tech Insider’s Club by visiting www.LearnWithLee.REALTOR.