How to Do The Hardest Thing In Real Estate Investing

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Sitting in my car, my palms were sweating. I was nauseous. I had one of those big lumps in my bone dry throat.

I was about to walk into my first networking meeting as a new real estate investor. I had just wound down my flooring business and there I was – about to make my first foray into a Chamber of Commerce “Business After Hours” networking event as a “full time real estate investor”.

I had been dreading this event all day, all week in fact. Actually, I had been dreading it ever since I wrote my check out of my new Holdem Realty checking account to join the Chamber.

I had bought one of those “guru” real estate investing training programs and although most of the training was pretty worthless, one of the biggest things they kept reinforcing is that in order to really launch your career – you have to network – you have to “get out there” and make yourself visible.

Although I knew it was the right advice, it scared the crap out of me. So much so that as I sat in my car, I half thought about slipping the transmission into drive and returning to the cozy confines of home.

But I didnt.

Do The Thing You Fear Most and You Control Fear

Tony Robbins once said that. I know its good advice, but it doesn’t mean that its easy to do it. Being totally out of my comfort zone was my own personal “thing I feared most”…but Tony made it sound so simple to do.

It wasn’t.

Why was I so afraid?

After all as a flooring guy, I had done dozens of these kinds of networking events. I actually got pretty good at them. And I had always tried to welcome the new guys to those events and make them feel comfortable.

I saw them come in, nervously look around for a friendly face and try to fit in. I had always tried to help them.

But would someone do that for me now?

Being The New Guy in a New Town

Now the tables had turned – now I was the new guy. I was the “full time real estate investor” – with no contacts, no experience, no real knowledge and worse yet…no deals.

On top of that, I knew nobody. I was in a new town and a new networking group.

But I knew I had to do it. Sitting in my car waiting to go in…I realized I had to just dive in and figure it out as I went along.

After ten minutes, I finally got out of the car and walked in…

Take The First Step In Faith

Everyone (including me – now that I help new real estate investors) tells you that you have to meet other people to be successful in real estate investing. I knew that networking was the key to my success.

After all, my first house flip years before had come about from networking…sort of. With a friend of mine as a partner, we had done our first deal together. That’s when I got my first taste of this real estate investing thing.

Now I was going to do it on my own…without a safety net. Its what I had always wanted to do – so networking was the way to do it.

I once heard this quote from Martin Luther King:

“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”

I took the first step on the staircase and I walked in – having NO idea how many steps were on that staircase.

Taking The First Step…

When I walked in, I was greeted at the the door, got my name badge and looked around. I had nobody to talk to.

Everyone else seemed to know eveyone else and I knew nobody.

How long would I stand there by myself before someone came over to say hello?

Nobody did, so I took a big gulp and strolled up to the bar where there were a coupple of other guys sitting chatting. Although I had done this many times before, I couldnt think of single thing to say.

Thankfully, one of them turned to me and stuck his hand out and introduced himself. He was a local carpenter and he was chatting with a local painter.

What great flooring contacts! I thought to myself.

Nope. I introduced myself – for the very first time, mind you – as a full time real estate investor. And although the conversation was a bit forced an maybe even a bit uncomfortable, I had done it.

That night, I did the same thing on numerous other occasions (maybe the two Bud Lights helped a bit to calm my nerves) and met a half dozen or so other local people.

Looking back, I was horrible at it that night. But I kept going.

Taking more steps on the staircase, I signed up for more networking groups like BNI and REIA where I did the same thing – sometimes sitting in my car before each one, sweating bullets before I went in…

But over time, the fear became less and less and less. I started to know lots of people at these events. And not only that, the contacts I made were – believe it or not – actually helping to grow my business.

I met bankers, contractors, real estate agents, hard money lenders and other real estate investors. I formed partnerships. I started to get “inside information” on new homes coming on the market. I had a list of contractors and guys I could get money from.

My networking was really starting to pay off.

I wasn’t good at it at first, but I did do it.

The Fear of The Unknown Is Never As Bad As You Think

I think back to that first night in my car and I chuckle a bit now. What was I so scared of? Easy for me to think that way now. But I remember…it was the fear of the unknown.

It was the fear of taking the first step on the staircase. And although it really sucked to do it…I am so glad I did. In fact, when I think about it today, the fear of the unknown is never really as bad as I think it will be.

Was it uncomfortable? Yes. Was it awkward? Heck yeah.

Did it help my business? Without a doubt.

As fearful as that fear of the unknown is at the time, its actually not that bad. It doesn’t mean its easy to overcome…don’t get me wrong, its not. But its not as horrible as your mind makes it out to be.

What kinds of fears do you face when you first started in real estate? Or if you haven’t started yet, whats holding you back now?

Please leave a comment below and tell me. Maybe somehow, some way, we can all help you get through it and take that first step on the staircase…

Photo: Toni Blay

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About Author

Michael LaCava is a full time real estate investor, house flipping coach and the President of Hold Em Realty located in Wareham, MA. He runs the website House Flipping School to teach new real estate investors how to flip houses and is the author of "How to Flip a House in 5 Simple Steps".

31 Comments

  1. Enjoyed your article. This pretty much sums me up. I want to do real estate but the fear of the unknown is what holds me back. Also its tough when you are introverted!

    • That is true Mike but it is good you realize this. Go visit a toastmasters or BNI meeting where they can help you with this. Role play with friends or family to practice. You must get over your fear if you want to succeed. One day at a time. You must crawl before you run.
      Love to hear how you make out with your role playing and visiting those networking groups.

  2. Hi Michael,

    This is all about promoting and doing COI marketing, or Centers of Influence. Insurance, Realtors, anyone starting out needing referrals, warm business leads, wanting to avoid cold calling, will promote and speak.

    3 promotion activities that will help any new business person.

    1. Learn an Elevator Speech
    From Inc.com….
    1. Start with a hook.
    2. Stop Talking.
    3. Reel them in.
    4. Serve, don’t sell.
    See http://www.inc.com/marla-tabaka/fix-your-elevator-speech.html

    2. Go to Toastmasters and learn how to give a 5 minute speech.
    Get graded by some nice people that want you to succeed in public speaking.
    See http://www.inc.com/eric-v-holtzclaw/make-a-great-speech-eight-steps.html

    When I first went to a Chamber was in 1985, and I gave a 5 minute speech, I believe on “How Home Ownership makes Our Town better.

    My Tips:
    Tell them what you are going to say
    Say it
    Thank them SINCERELY
    Sit down

    3. Lastly, THANK YOU CARDS.

    Get a business card from everybody, and if you are new, act like a rookie. Say something like “Really nice meeting you, and I hope to send some business your way.” Serve first. Get a list of providers that are chamber members that complement your business, like plumbers, handymen, insurance. Place these on your RE website as Preferred Service Providers.

    Nice article as always Micheal. Sometimes word of mouth and a press release really helps fuel a start up.

    • All great stuff here Brian. Thanks for sharing. I have been a member of BNI (business networking international) for 10+ years and it and I remember my first 60 seconds and I think I forgot my own name. LOL. Forgot my 60 second introduction after studying and memorizing so I thought. I pulled out my notes and read from them after I jokingly told the group I thought this might happen. Everyone got a chuckle and the rest is history.

  3. This is a post Mike that everyone can relate to. You have to step outside your comfort zone to succeed in most any business and it’s hard.

    I really like the book “Excuses Begone” by Wayne Dyer. You should get this one too. (You got that other book off of Amazon right?)

    Wayne basically says loose the excuses. End of story. I like to tell folks you need to “feel the fear and walk through the fire anyway”. That is ultimately what separates the winners from the folks that simply “exist or just get by” in this world.

    Sharon

    • So true Sharon. I still face new fears as I continue to expand my business. Funny because we have a saying in our office “NO EXCUSES” we way it often.
      My wife ordered me the book on fathers day so anxiously waiting for it to read.
      I will have to check but I believe I made a promise by a certain date to get the book or a check was coming your way for a donation.

        • LOL. I just got it in the mail today. My wife ordered the comic illustrated version by mistake. Just read it in about 30 minutes. Reminded me of so many things I already new and some old techniques I learned years ago with A,b,c,d,e 123 concept. Well my birthday is Sunday so my daughter said she will get me the regular text version of the book for my birthday.

  4. Henry Jenkins on

    i echo Sharon. Everyone can relate to this article. I used to brief groups of 350+ people a week on various legal issues. Even though I did it many times, I was nervous and “sweating bullets” each time. I found that the first 3 min is the toughest. After that you everything starts flowing.

    One thing that I find that helps is to arrive to an event early, about 15 min. For me that is my freakout time. After that I focus on “CSR” Calm Slow Relax. That helps me calm down and dive into the event at hand. I use that tactic because I stutter and it helps me control it, to a degree.

    Thanks for this article.

    • So true Henry. I agree the first few minutes can be the toughest because it sets the tone.
      I guess thats why great public speakers tell a joke to lighten up the audience but I think it actually makes it easier on them when the audience is loosened up.
      You mentioned used to. ARE you doing anything these days in regards to networking or any more speaking engagements.

  5. This article is crazy! To any church goers or spiritual people, or anyone who just believes in a sign like I do–this post, and another one I received earlier today from @Karen Margrave, and a message I heard during church service today are all driving the same point–Get out there, take a chance and the benefits will reveal themselves. At least this is the encouragement I received from reading this post. When I think of networking events, from even just reading this article, I feel a bit anxious. So, I’m glad to know that I’m not alone. I’m also the adventurous type (I know it’s kind of an oxymoron) but I’ll just about do anything once! It’s doing it the second time, especially if the first was a disaster, that I need to check myself on.

    Now it’s time for me to register for next weeks REIA meetup in atlanta…..

      • I’m very interested in what I think the correct term is called buy & hold- I want to accumulate rental properties to build income. I’ve already purchased one home, I just need to found a way to buy the second one. And I know others can mentor me through.

  6. Karin DiMauro on

    Great stuff. You’ve described it perfectly, especially for those of us who are shy/introverted at heart! Although there is a huge element of “Just Do It” (one of my favorite slogans ever, btw, and one I use to motivate myself when I need to work out more!), it’s not quite that easy, particularly for the shy folks. We truly cannot Just Do It. You extroverts might be able to wing it, but we can’t! There is a lot of game-planning involved and techniques to learn. I spend a ton of time mapping out how a meeting might go, the questions I’m going to ask others, mentally reminding myself how to act confident and outgoing – fake it til you make it (but don’t overdo it) – and rehearsing how to breathe and speak, quite frankly. It’s a lot like the way a coach might prep for a big game.

    And I love the mantra, “Feel the fear and do it anyway.” A great one-liner to kick oneself in the tush when needed. :)

    Oh, and one more thing. I heard a speaker talking about different types of fear once, and one she mentioned was the fear that everyone will find out I don’t know what I’m doing. That was a huge ah-ha moment to me … it wasn’t really a fear of the unknown that froze me in my tracks sometimes, it was that I was embarking on this new venture and soon enough, people were gonna figure out I’m clueless. haha And then what? For me, that was the big one I had to work my way through … how to get past that totally uncomfortable feeling of being new and having people sometimes ask me questions I don’t know the answer to. But again – game plan!! And realize that it’s totally cool to not have all the answers – because no one likes a know-it-all anyway. ;-)

    • Thanks for sharing all that Karin. Good to see you working through it all. Fear of what others may think is one for a lot of us. Especially if we fail now what will they think. The only thing worse than failing is never trying at all. Don’t worry making a fool or not having the answers.
      It will paralyze you from moving forward. Are you working on any real estate investing currently? or working towards it.

    • Karin you mentioned my favorite line: “Feel the fear and do it anyway.” A great one-liner I’ve used to kick myself in the butt many times!

      • Karin DiMauro on

        Ralph, I repeat that line to myself ALL the time! :)

        Michael – thanks for the reply … and yes, I am working on a rehab currently! We just finished a flip and are on to our second, and are networking like crazy for more deals and for private money. It’s so true that your fear eases up as you put things in motion. And Bigger Pockets helps a bunch as well. It’s so great to have this website to turn to when questions arise along the way. It’s kind of like having a bunch of coaches on speed dial!

        Thanks again for the great post. Now I believe there’s a new podcast I need to listen to … ;-)

  7. Sherell Washington on

    This is exactly how I feel when I receive just an email from my local REIA advising of an upcoming meeting. I know once I get in there and start talking it will go great but the fear of actually going and getting the nerve to start the conversation is what paralyzes me. I am definitely going to do it though. You can not keep expecting different results by doing the same things. So on 3, here I go! 1…..2……3…..

    • Thats great Sherell – Just do it! and no more excuses! Best of luck and let me know how it goes. Just be yourself and don’t worry about impressing anyone. Keep it simple as you are there to learn and make relationships. One step at a time.

  8. Steve Johnson on

    I completely have the same fears. I was terrified the other day to go into the office of a mobile home park to get information on home sales. Well, after driving around the park telling myself I’d look at the homes for sale, I finally parked and walked in. Low and behold, I was somewhat ignored because the manager was leaving for vacation for a month… away from a MHP… Not sure how that works, but okay.

    After checking out more mobile home parks, I realized I’ve already got a good understanding of what’s going on. After talking to more park managers, they don’t have any idea of what comps are for the area. They just say the range the homes in the park are asking for is the range things are selling for…

    Looking back, I definitely had a silly fear to not just jump in and talk with the people risking looking like a fool.

    • way to face your fears Steve and take action. Believe me you know a lot more than you think
      and after years of being in this business I realize the people I thought were the experts are not experts at all and I use to fear them in the sense I thought I wasn’t worthy to be in their presence. Crazy stuff the mind can do but you just have to reverse that thinking.
      think and grow rich by napoleon hill great book that helped me with that.

  9. I never had a fear of attending large gatherings of people but I have a different kind of fear that holds me back when it comes to REI.
    I am afraid that when I purchase a property and something goes wrong I’d panic and decide to abandon all my plans and exit quickly. However is no quick exit without a loss once the property is bought. What would I do in this case? I don’t know and that scares me.
    I can come up with various plans and scenarios but they all may (and most likely will) go out of a window once emotions take over.
    So, how can I test my emotions without taking any real risk? I can go through the whole buying process and bailout at the last minute just to test myself but what else?

    • Well Nick that is tough but the only real advice I can offer is you just have to face your fears and take action. I use to think of all the what if went wrong scenarios you can imagine until I accepted what is the worse that can happen. This is a good way to test yourself to see if you are able to accept that and what you would do to solve the problem.
      My first offer scared me and it scared me more when they accepted. None of this excuses the fact you must have a good plan through proper planning and learning and then it is time to execute. Change your mindset into all the good that will happen and not the bad.

  10. Thanks for the reminder that everyone is nervous at the beginning. I try to go to a local REIA meeting a couple of times a month and I now feel much more comfortable and have made some contacts. Getting used to talking to people will also help when you need to deal with sellers.

  11. This is so true Mike.
    I was going to my home REIA meeting for probably close to 4 years before I REALLY started feeling comfortable working the room and getting up and talking in front of the group.

    The good news for me (and for others that might be going to events but not fully taking advantage of them) is that despite wasting so much opportunity to do more I DID meet a ton of people that have become good friends and resources as well as many people that I have done business with.

    Moral of the story is that even if it takes a little while to get comfortable go to your meetings. At least go and learn from the experts that might be talking to the group, get your FACE out there (Gee I’ve seen that guy at a lot of these meetings recently, I should go introduce myself and see who he is), and at least talk with the people that approach YOU (It will usually happen!).

    It is obviously best to get over the anxiety and insecurity as fast as possible, but don’t let it keep you from at least getting out there.

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