Seizing Every Opportunity to Network
You've heard it before: business is all about who you know. Success in real estate, in particular, is dictated by referrals and networking. A lot of new real estate agents think their career will get in the way of time with their kids, but that doesn't have to be the case. Like any job, you get out of it what you put in, but real estate's a malleable industry and it's definitely possible for family life and work life to co-exist. Some situations can even be mutually beneficial.
Take, for instance, the PTA.
The mighty Parent-Teacher Association exists the world over, and in America it was formed all the way back in 1897. If you have kids in grade school, you might be a member of the PTA, or you at least know about it. It's where parents and teachers work together to support the educational needs of the school's students.
The PTA is also a great opportunity for networking, and for you the real estate agent to add some names to your contact list and widen your ever-important sphere of influence.
Your Sphere of Influence
Your sphere consists of the people you have influence over, and whom have influence over you. These are the people that could be swayed by your opinion on their new shoes, or whom you might invite to one of your amazing birthday parties. Still waiting on our invite, by the way.
The people lucky enough to exist within your sphere are the ones you want to do business with, and expanding that sphere is great for business. Over time you'll inevitably get closer to some of these parents and teachers, and when one of them chooses to buy or sell their house, you want to be the first smiling face that comes to mind.
Here are three tips for making the most of any networking opportunity:
1. Be Approachable
The first rule to meeting anyone ever, since the beginning of time, you have to be approachable. If you walk in to a PTA meeting with a scowl on your face, no one's going to talk to you - and if you try to solicit some real estate business with that scowl, you're guaranteed to get nowhere fast. Smile, talk with people, and be a part of the conversation instead of the scowling salesman waiting to pounce at the first mention of houses. Nobody likes a pouncing salesman.
2. Connect Small
Don't aim to talk to every single person at the event, because it'll be impossible to actually connect with all of them, and connections are the whole point of networking! Dispense with the small talk unless it's absolutely necessary, and instead go into each conversation with the intention of really talking. You want to be their friend who also happens to work in real estate. It's perfectly natural for two strangers to begin talking about their careers, so relax and engage with each person you speak to.
3. Meet the Wallflowers
No, I don't mean the band that made the '96 hit One Headlight - I mean the people who hug the walls and choose to remain standing despite there being a perfectly adequate amount of chairs for all the attendees. These people may be more shy than the ones leading the conversation, but you may also find that they're some of the most fascinating people there. You may well find the Bill Gates of the group, shy but brilliant, and he just might be looking for a house.
The World Wide Web of Networking
I know what you're thinking: why limit this to the PTA? In response to that, I say That's the spirit! You never know when you'll make a connection that could turn into a business prospect.
Of course there's a right and wrong way to go about networking. Nobody likes the lawyer offering his services from room to room in a hospital, and it's important to not force the networking aspect. Most people at your PTA don't care an ounce for your business card when you first meet, but once you're well-acquainted and chatting about work life? Organic networking is the best networking, and the real key is to stay relevant. As long as you go about your networking efforts honestly and with a friendly demeanor, then the worst that could happen is you make a new friend.
For more tips on using your sphere of influence to its greatest business potential, download our ebook, Assembling Your Sphere of Influence.