6 Networking Tips From Mr. Popular on BiggerPockets
I’ve been around this community for a long time, and I spend a considerable amount of time adding to discussions on the BiggerPockets Forums, building genuine relationships, and bringing the right people together. Networking isn’t really a natural talent of mine; it’s something I developed over time. Now I consider it to be the most valuable use of my time, and I want to teach the next investor the same lesson.
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I was very fortunate to be asked onto the BiggerPockets Real Estate Podcast episode #301, then I started writing for the BiggerPockets Blog, then I became a moderator on the forums, and now I’m the host of the “Meet the Investor” YouTube series.
These things didn’t happen because I’m the smartest, biggest, or hardest-working real estate investor around. (I’m definitely not the hardest-working.) They happened because I spend the majority of my time adding value to the community and selflessly investing in the people here.
Over the years, I’ve written about networking here before. But as I go further and further into real estate, I find that it reinforces the idea that my success in real estate has almost nothing to do with houses and everything to do with humans. In fact, I often tell people that I don’t invest in houses at all—I only invest in people.
Much like you hear the advice to spend less time in the books and more time taking action, I believe that shaking hands is the perfect and most efficient way to take action. With that in mind, here are some of my best tips to develop productive and meaningful relationships.
1. Utilize BiggerPockets’ Search Function
Imagine you’re looking for a lender in your area (or any vendor). Go to the BiggerPockets search function and type in “lender,” then filter by member tab and then by location. Scroll through, and you’ll find about 50 active members that fit your criteria. Email all of them.
You won’t get 50 responses, but you don’t need 50—you really only need the right one. You’ll probably get messages back from about 10-20%, which is still huge.
This doesn't have to be for just vendors, either. You can search for anything using keywords—whatever you're trying to accomplish: flipper, BRRRR, rentals, landlord, etc. The goal is to find the highly specific individual that you want to build a relationship with. It's simple and incredibly powerful.
This isn’t the first time I’ve given this advice on a blog, and it probably won’t be the last, because I use this strategy all the time and it consistently produces results.
Recently, I was building the guest list for “Meet the Investor” season two. I used this method to get nearly half of the show’s guests. I don’t look at this as just a few people I’m going to do this little project with; these are people who are already in real estate, they are in this community, and now I will know them the rest of my life. All from a quick search and some emails.
This also means that the more frequently you post on the BiggerPockets Forums using keywords of what you do and where you’re located, the more likely someone will be able to find you when they are searching.
2. Send a 7 a.m. Text
Three or four times a week, as soon as I wake up, I start getting hyped for the day. I want to share and spread that hype to people in my circle. I go through my phone list and text people who I think might enjoy or need this positive influence and just say, “Hey, I’m thinking of you, and I hope you have a fantastic day. Let me know if you’re doing anything I can help with.”
This is so powerful when done correctly, and it’s something that everyone can do. Reaching out obviously has to be genuine—I didn’t start this as a networking thing. I just do it because I love it.
Maybe this specific approach will work the same way for you, or maybe consider creating your own approach. Either way, if it’s not genuine, everyone will catch on pretty quickly. Other people know when you’re B.S.-ing, so make sure to do right by people.
The overall idea here is to put yourself at the forefront of people’s minds, which is the most valuable real estate of all. You know you’re doing it right simply by their response. (Bonus points for trolling your friends in different time zones. My West Coast friends get these messages at 3 or 4 a.m.)
I can explain my style more simply as such: I meet people who I know I need in my life, and then I spend about three years annoying them endlessly until I wear them down and we become best friends.
I have no problem shoving my life into someone else’s life, because I know my motives are pure. If your motives are pure, then you should feel comfortable doing the same. If you are just doing this to get something out of it, then everyone will feel that. It won’t work, and you’ll do more harm to your reputation than good.
3. Play the Long Game
In the last tip, I mentioned that these processes can take around three years, but the reality is this takes much longer. This is a process that lasts forever—relationships are for life.
There is nobody you’re going to meet who is going to change your life overnight. But meeting the right person can create a fork in your life that leads to permanent changes over time. It’s important to remember a few points though.
Knowing someone isn’t the value—it’s the relationship that matters.
It’s not about how many phone numbers I have. It’s that people are enthusiastic to talk to me when I reach out. That’s where the real power is.
It’s like going to a conference, collecting business cards, but forgetting what you spoke to each person about. That’s useless. You want to create a meaningful dynamic that people are excited to participate in.
Intros are just the start.
No one can recreate a relationship they have between you and another person. Being introduced to people through already-established friendships is extremely potent and something we all should be doing, but it’s impossible for them to transfer their friendship to you. All we get is the intro—which is big—but it’s up to us to develop that relationship on our own.
People are an investment, not a transaction.
I have a saying about this: “Selflessly and fearlessly invest in people.” Don’t approach people in a way that’s focused on what you can get from them. Instead, consider what you can do for them. If you take care of people and work to improve their lives, the odds are higher that they will enthusiastically try to help when and if you need them.
This idea applies to everyone, from the contractor you need to work on a house to a powerhouse real estate investor who you want to become your mentor. Invest in people selflessly, and the rest will work out.
4. Commingle Your Hobbies
Ever tried to become best friends with someone over 30? For many people, it’s not so easy. But why? It’s because people have more established lives, interests, routines, and families to think about.
Finding people who are into real estate is enough of a shared interest to become friends, but you can compound that exponentially by finding additional overlapping interests or taking one of your interests and using it to add value to their life.
My personal example is photography and videography—but it can be anything for you. It can be a creative interest, a technical interest, or an abstract interest. Think of your hobbies as a force that can be used for good in your relationships.
I didn’t pick up photography as a means to network. But along the way, I learned something interesting about our world: Everyone has a camera on their phone these days, but almost everyone is a lousy photographer.
This is because good image quality does not equal good pictures. A large portion of people are accustomed to seeing terrible pictures of themselves—and they hate it. Then I show up and take one great image of a person, and they love me forever. Easy!
Lately, I have taken to videography, and specifically YouTube production. But I didn’t go off and make a bunch of YouTube videos about myself out of the gate. I started by putting other people on camera and trying to make them look good first.
Photography has nothing to do with the lesson here, it’s just to plant a seed in your mind that you can and should use your outside personal interests to compound your business relationships. You probably have a hobby that you can share with other people for mutual benefit. Anything from spearfishing, web design, woodworking, or whatever.
Find your unique talents and use them as a means to help other people.
5. Use Your Ego
Part of the reason you want to be successful is ego. This is inevitable. You want the money, you want freedom, and you want to announce it to the world when you succeed. That’s ego.
Accomplishing big goals feels good, and we love to chase those wins. The feeling that comes with them, that’s definitely ego.
Many of us love to compete. But this can lead to trouble, especially when dealing with debt. So, it’s important not to let our ego control us. While ego may be inevitable, the reward systems that feed the demon are not all created equal.
I tell people all the time, “I can make money for myself, but that’s easy. I want to be so good that I can make you money, too.” It’s one thing to get an ego boost from hitting your goals. It’s a whole new level of ego when you can help someone else succeed.
Looking at it this way allows us to feed that ego without starting from a selfish motive, and we can approach people with a genuine desire to help while perfectly reconciling our own interests. Don’t try to suppress your ego; use it to help the greater good.
6. Be a Beacon
If networking is the organization of people you know, being a beacon means telling people how to come to you. This is what social media and content creation are great for: telling the world what you do and how to get ahold of you.
In this day and age, part of successful networking requires you to be a beacon to some degree. There are a few ways you can do this:
- Host a meetup. Sure, you can go to a meetup, but then you’re not the beacon, are you? You don’t need to make a big production of this. I have been doing a Sunday morning meetup at 8 a.m. at a local coffee shop for years now. It’s been extremely successful. Even though it’s on a Sunday and it starts way too early, doing so allows me to weed out people who aren’t a good fit for me. Find the right approach for you, but I highly recommend you start something! Find a few friends to help if you need to.
- Share your expertise. For three years, I’ve been offering free video chats/mentorship with real estate investors through my website for no cost and for no reason other than to help. I’m booked for weeks in advance, and it’s an incredibly rewarding experience to give back. This is something anyone can do, as it’s free and simple. I have no idea why more people don’t do it, but that means competition is low, so you can get in easily.
- Announce your presence. I go to events all over the state and conferences all over the country, and I announce it online constantly. More than just showing up, take the time to arrange it so that like-minded people can find you once you arrive. This way you’re not going to the event and hoping to make friends—you show up and other people are actively seeking you out. This is the peak of being a beacon!
I hope these tips are helpful. I tried to include a mix of actionable and mindset activities. Most importantly, you’ll notice I didn’t mention trading value or money a single time. If you think developing genuine relationships has anything to do with money or extracting value from someone, you’re going to get outcompeted, because people like me just don’t care that much about money.
People are far more valuable than money. I invest in them with no thought of return on investment. If you do right by people, the money will eventually come.
What are some of your best relationship-building strategies?
Let us know in the comments.