This April, one of Inman’s most popular recurring theme months returns: Back to Basics. All month, real estate professionals from across the country share what’s working for them, how they’ve evolved their systems and tools, and where they’re investing personally and professionally to drive growth in 2022. It’s always smart to go Back to Basics with Inman.
The one constant in the real estate industry is that it’s always evolving. From the emergence of discount brokerages to the exploding popularity of virtual home tours, or how, exactly, to sell homes to millennials, the challenges faced by real estate agents are constantly changing.
No one agent can keep abreast of all these changes by themselves — it takes a village or, in this case, a network, to stay on top of the latest developments. A robust network also happens to be the best way to find new leads, line up your next job, or help a big client find a home that meets their exact specifications.
So how do you build up a network in the real estate industry? Read on for some time-tested ways to start forging those invaluable professional connections.
Build a lateral network
A common mistake made by novice Realtors is to network only with other Realtors. Although it’s important to connect with your fellow agents, expanding your network to include other types of real estate professionals can pay huge dividends.
You want to develop relationships with people who work in every aspect of the real estate industry — attorneys, developers, contractors, architects, accountants, notaries, photographers, lenders and many others. Not only will this give you a fuller view of how the business works, but it will also get the referrals flowing in both directions.
If you have a seller who needs good listing photos taken, and you refer them to a real estate photographer you know, that photographer could very well return the favor in the future by sending some of their clients to you.
Leverage social media
Social media is an absolutely vital avenue for networking in 2022 — if it’s done right.
On a fundamental level, social media is a lot like socializing in real life — it’s all about reaching out, forging connections, and observing some basic rules of acceptable conduct. Do that consistently, and it’ll go a long way toward increasing your brand recognition, enhancing your network, and bringing in leads.
Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and even TikTok are great for sharing listings, showing off your expertise, and interacting with potential clients. This last point is especially important.
Engagement is the secret ingredient that will take your social media strategy to the next level. Answering questions and commenting in an authentic voice is how people will know you’re an organic social media presence and not just a scheduling bot.
A recent study from the National Association of Realtors on digital media in real estate found that only 57 percent of Realtors use social media apps daily, suggesting that a lot of real estate professionals aren’t getting all they can out of social media.
Demonstrate value with a great blog and website
You’ll want to build a simple, appealing website, so people can find you online. After all, a majority of home searches begin on the internet.
Beyond that, a great blog can demonstrate your expertise, establish you as an authority, boost your brand recognition and make you an indispensable presence in people’s lives long before they even think about buying a home.
An effective blog offers useful, original, relevant content, and it’s updated frequently. Readers want content that helps them solve problems, learn something, and answer their questions. That can mean everything from neighborhood guides, to articles about how to boost the appeal of your home, to in-depth blog posts that explain how a comparative market analysis can supercharge your home sale.
You can also use your blog to showcase your listings far beyond what’s possible on the MLS — think glossy listing videos, 3D tours or narrative histories of individual properties.
Finally, invest in some SEO best practices to get the web traffic you deserve!
If people come to your real estate blog for advice, information, and news, you’ll be the first name that comes to mind when they decide to buy or sell a house.
Go to conferences and events
Attending industry conferences and events like Inman’s monthly Connect Now or Inman Connect New York (April 19-21) is a great way to expand your network and make valuable contacts. But to get the most out of events like these, you have to have a strategy.
A surprising number of conference attendees spend most of their time with people they already know. Although this is a pleasant way to spend a conference, you’re not going to make many contacts unless you meet new people — and you aren’t going to meet a lot of new people unless you make a concerted effort to do so. It can be helpful to give yourself a daily target number for people to meet and business cards to collect, so you know you’re not being complacent.
Many networking experts suggest only attending events where you have to pay to attend because this will draw the most serious attendees, who are intent on meeting their peers. Generally, these events offer the most, and the highest quality, opportunities to network.
Another networking strategy that’s great for large conventions and conferences is to seek out featured speakers and talk to them about their area of expertise.
Don’t wait until after their talk, though, because they’ll likely be swamped by a mob of people. Seek them out a few hours before their speaking slot for some valuable one-on-one time with a high-value contact.
And finally, to bring it full circle — why not combine your conference attendance and your new social media strategy, and livetweet the event?
Don’t overestimate the value of closeness
This one is a little counterintuitive, but research has shown that you’ll get more leads and referrals from people you only see once in a while, rather than people in your closest circles.
This makes sense the more you think about it — who’s more likely to connect you with someone looking to buy a house, your partner you see every day or a college classmate you run into at the supermarket?
So don’t fixate on your closest contacts. Make a point of touching base with acquaintances every few months, even if it’s only once a year. Former coworkers, old classmates and friends you’ve fallen out of touch with can be excellent sources of referrals.