Networking. We all know it’s important. But we also know that it can cause a lot of mental anguish. Deep down inside, we all know it’s like a first date.
But actually it’s worse than that. It’s a blind date! So, not only do you get the sweaty palms, dry mouth, and heart palpitations… you also have a million questions going through your head.
Will they like me? Are they going to be cool? Did I trim my nose hair?
Well, I’m here to help you out—even if you’re an introvert like me! So, let’s get into the benefits of networking, different ways to network, and some tips to get it done the right way.
The Benefits of Networking
Whether you like it or not, real estate is a team sport. It is impossible to take down a deal by yourself. IMPOSSIBLE.
Look at all the people involved in a typical transaction:
- Real estate agent 1
- Real estate agent 2
- Title company
- Home inspector
And there are potentially more people involved. Contractors, partners, wholesalers, CPAs, property managers… the list goes on and on.
So, let’s go over a few of the benefits of networking.
Benefit #1: Building a Team
Once you get your core team together, you won’t have to find those people again! When I first started out as an agent, I didn’t have a network of people to refer clients to—but that changed. Within a short period of time, I had all my go-to problem solvers to help my clients get what they wanted.
Of course, it’s always good to have a backup plan, just in case one of those partners exits the business or you have to part ways for other reasons.
Benefit #2: Meeting New People
You get to meet new people while networking! This may seem obvious, but if you’re not growing your network, then your network might be at a plateau—or worse, dying. I’ve been fortunate enough to make friends, meet new partners, and get more deals done because of this.
This leads me to the next benefit.
Benefit #3: Developing Partnerships
I honestly wouldn’t be where I am today without partnerships. I wouldn’t have tackled that first deal without a good partner. I wouldn’t have been able to flip any of the houses I’ve flipped without money partners or purchase a 20-unit apartment building without a good commercial lender partner.
Benefit #4: Gaining Knowledge
Networking presents the opportunity to hang around smart people. It’s been said that you’re the average of the five people you hang around the most. If that’s the case, I’m not opposed to hanging around with some smart people that are insanely creative, hard working, and have the same mindset—to get deals done (which just happens to be my next point)!
Benefit #5: Getting Deals Done
Networking helps you get deals done. At our local meetup, even though there are not a ton of people there, everyone is helping each other get deals done. Help might come in the form of money, property management, selling properties, etc.
If you’re a real estate investor, this is pretty important, right?
Benefit #6: Building Credibility
If you regularly network and attend meetups, you get almost instant credibility. The key word here is regularly. If you treat it as a one-off, people won’t take you too seriously (or even remember you).
Benefit #7: Garnering Support
And finally, you get support. While I’m not going to compare real estate meetups to AA or a group counseling session, at times it can be a relief to hear other people’s struggles and offer help and support where needed. Everyone has a real estate horror story—it’s hard to go a week without hearing one. Networking offers the opportunity to help other investors learn from your mistakes and you from theirs.
There are a myriad of ways to network nowadays (thank you internet!), so let’s take a look at some of the most effective.
In my humble opinion, real estate investing meetups are the single best way to network. Makes sense, right? There are a few ways to go about finding one, if you haven’t already.
Pro Tip: If there aren’t any in your area or if you don’t like the ones near you, START YOUR OWN! This is what I did a few years ago. The local meetups were kind of far away, so I started one where I lived.
You do need a Pro Membership to post events on BiggerPockets, and I highly recommend you get one (there are tons of other benefits, as well)! Plus, if you are the host/creator of a meetup, people will look to you as the “expert.” It’s good for business!
Meetup.com is a great way to find local real estate meetups, as well. Most of the time, you’ll find the local REIAs (Real Estate Investing Associations) posting there.
It’s not too hard to find real estate investing conferences online. A quick Google search will reveal quite a few. Of course, these are more expensive, but they can be worth it depending on what you’re looking to get out of it.
Social media has made it easier and quicker than ever to find what we’re looking for in a particular niche. You can search hashtags on Instagram and Twitter, contribute to Facebook Groups, and so much more.
Real estate investing influencers are easier to connect with than you think. They’re just a DM (aka direct message) away.
SOI (Sphere of Influence)
If you have a phone (please tell me you have one), you probably have some contacts saved. Reach out with a call or text to everyone in your phone and tell them about your real estate investing. Ask if there’s anyone you should connect with. They might have the world’s greatest contractor or a “Daddy” Warbucks saved to their “Favorites” and be willing to share their diamond in the rough with you.
How to Network Effectively
Here are a few tips I’ve learned over the years when it comes to networking like a pro.
If you’re interacting with a group or an individual, this is probably the most important thing you can do. People need to be heard, and you can learn a lot from listening (and keeping your mouth shut!).
Usually there is a component in networking groups where you share your name, story, etc. so people can learn a little bit about you. Be honest!
If you’re a first time investor, say that. If you’re experienced, let the group know what you’ve done.
Handshake & Eye Contact
OK, kind of old school advice here, but when you’re meeting someone for the first time, look them in the eyes and give them a firm handshake (and smile). Sound advice from the past, my friends. No one wants to network with someone who’s looking at their shoes and gives the “dead fish” handshake.
Again, this is kind of self-explanatory, but people would prefer to work with people who are friendly. Smile, be interested in what they have to say, and ask a lot of questions.
People love to tell their story. They just need someone to listen.
Business Cards (Yay or Nay?)
How many business cards from other people do you currently have? Oh, none you say? Biz cards are a little passé in my opinion.
Instead, ask them on the spot for their number or email address. Better yet, hand them your phone and tell them to put their info in.
Alternatively, ask them what their preferred social media channel is. Connect with them where they like to connect.
Oh, I said this already? Well, that’s because it’s so IMPORTANT. People have a desperate need to be heard.
A Special Note to Introverts
As I like to say, “Introverts are people, too.” You may feel like networking is impossible—or at best, painful. It doesn’t have to be!
I’ve actually learned to enjoy it. Here are a few tips for the less gregarious crowd.
Take a Deep Breath
It’s going to be OK. No one is going to ridicule you, make fun of you, or laugh you out of the meeting. It’s just some like-minded people getting together to talk about what they’re interested in. No big deal!
Introverts tend to be better listeners and, like I mentioned above, listening is vitally important to networking. Use your superpower!
You Have Something to Offer
Even if you’ve never done a deal before, you’ve got something to offer when it comes to networking. Maybe you’re good at marketing, or social media, or are excellent with numbers. You have a skill or interest that others can tap into. Offer it up!
Don’t Do Anything Hard!
This is something my grandpa used to say (tongue in cheek), implying that anything worth doing is going to take some effort. Networking does take some effort, but it is well worth it.
If I Can Do It…
And finally, if I can do it, then you can definitely do it. I’m a pretty big introvert, and like I said, I’ve come to enjoy networking. You can, too.
Ready, Set, Go!
So, get out there, guys and gals, and find your next networking event. Put it in your calendar, and network like a pro. You won’t regret it!
Do you have any other networking tips to add to this list? Have you encountered any issues you need help overcoming in terms of networking?
Let’s talk in the comment section below.
Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.