Investing in real estate today can be tough. You’ll likely have pretty stiff competition everywhere you turn, and it always seems like someone, somehow, is finding all the best deals. Want more articles like this? Create an account today to get BiggerPocket's best blog articles delivered to your inbox Sign up for free Are they looking harder than you? Probably not. Are they staying up all night refreshing the browser on the MLS? Probably not. Their secret is simple: they’re building relationships. Relationships with brokers, agents, property managers, and anyone else involved in real estate can be such powerful tools if you can learn to leverage them in the right way. To do so, you just need to learn how to set yourself apart from the others. First Impressions Last The first impression you make when meeting another person, whether it be in a personal or professional capacity, will undoubtedly stick. You need to make sure your appearance and tone reflect how serious you are about buying and selling real estate. I’ll be the first to tell you, I hate wearing dressy clothes. I would much rather bum around all day in a tee shirt and shorts with flip flops, like I’m heading to the beach. But what impression does that make? I’m not saying that it makes me unprofessional, but it doesn't shout "real estate professional" when I'm meeting a new agent or broker for the first time. Set the tone for your relationships with your outward appearance when meeting other professionals. Once you develop a lasting connection and they know you are serious about real estate, then you can bum around in your comfy clothes. Related: You’re Just One Relationship Away from “10X-ing” Your Goals Meeting Face to Face This topic is probably one of the hardest for people to fully grasp, considering all of the available technology today. Everyone wants to click a button or send an email saying, “Hello, my name is so and so. Please add me to your list of top buyers.” This is great, and it can get you on some good drip email lists from agents. But if you want to really make a lasting impression on an agent or broker, make the drive and sit down with them. Buy them lunch or coffee and just talk about what you do and what your goals are. Ask them about their past experiences and show appreciation for them taking the time to talk with you. After you do that, who do you think that agent is going to call when they get a lead on a hot property? The guy who sent the email or the guy who just bought them lunch? I’ll tell you about 80 percent of the agents who I contact about properties stop sending me leads after a few months if I have never met them in person. But the ones I took the time to develop relationships with have continued to send me leads even after we have moved from that market. Related: How to Build a Highly Effective Real Estate Team The Bottom Line There is no big secret to setting yourself apart from others. I had a sergeant major once tell me, “People, water, and electricity are all the same, because they will always choose the path of least resistance.” He was right. People are inherently lazy—it’s just who we are. If you want to set yourself apart, you need to do what others are not doing. You need to get out of the head-down technological mindset and get back to the basics of simple relationship-building. Do you have tips for building relationships in real estate? Tell me about it in a comment below!