So nearly everyone says the best way to get started is to network. Find other successful individuals in your area and get to know them and their story. Does anyone have any tips as to how they overcame networking struggles? Its not like I am a hermit or anything, small talk has just never really been my forte, so would you recommend just cutting straight to the point or how do many other already successful investors sort of act at big meetups
@John Elias -- I understand networking can be difficult, especially if you are introverted.
Keep in mind that it isn't about you. People are generally tuned into channel WIIFM...What's In It For Me? So, focus, not on yourself...but on them. Just get curious.
What do they do? How long have they been doing it? What do they like most about it? What are their current goals? What are the biggest challenges they face? etc etc. People love to talk about themselves. They of course will then ask you questions which you will know the answers to. (see above questions).
Have plenty of business cards...keep yours in one pocket, everyone else's in another. Have a pen to make notes on theirs.
After a few times, it will get easier. Remember also that many people there are just as uncomfortable as you are and are thrilled to have someone asking questions and being interested in them.
I'm pretty good at networking, so I'll give you a tip.
Be yourself at all times.
And always remember you do not have to lead the conversations.
An easy trick is to join a conversation between two people already in progress and just listen.
While they are talking smile a little and seem pleasant and just listen.
Then when they are done, ask one of them a question this way. "Hi my name is John, and you were talking about X, that's really interesting, can you tell me more about Y and Z."
Then when he or she is done, hand the person your business card and concurrently ask for theirs.
Bingo, you now have a new "Business friend" Stage-1 (you have just networked).
Then when you get home send them an email saying "Hello" and that way they have your email and you now have a Stage-2 "Business Friend".
Pop them an email every few weeks or so and say hello and you now have a stage-3 "business friend".
Then when you see them again at another networking event, "Say hello and ask them if they have been up to anything new". Easy Peasy.
Since it's not natural to you, focus on quality over quantity when you go an event, and when your burnt out leave, even if you only get one business card.
Then go out and have a nice meal as a reward for getting even 1 card. Because the journey of 1000 miles begins with one step.
@John Elias I recommend you go to local Meetups and REIA meetings. Show up a little early and stay late. Often there will be a guy or two holding court with a small group standing around and asking questions. Just stand there and listen to others questions and answers. That will give you some ideas.
You might also go to someone running the group and ask"I'm new. Is there anyone here who might be willing to show me one of their projects or rentals?"
Here you can add to your profile and add your location. You can also set up keyword alerts, so you get notified when someone mentions them in a post. you location or your particular interests make great keyword alerts.
PS; Networking is more about listening than talking. People love to talk about themselves. You don't have to do small talk. Just ask questions. Who What Why When and How.
I think Scott has given the secret to networking above. It’s not just meeting people, it’s the follow up. I think it’s especially important to offer something of value to the other person so that you might work together. Starting out, the most important thing is to be involved in deals/projects so that those contacts get added to your network.
@Dutch Langley Thank you for this advice, I think it is really helpful. If I am just starting out, should I just sort of get generic business cards made that say I'm some sort of real estate professional or investor?
@Scott Mac Wow that is really insightful, I appreciate that response. MY only question is about joining that already in progress conversation. Does it not seem awkward to those 2 people if I just kind of walk up and stand there and wait my turn?
@John Elias When you are walking up, just take a look at their body language -- are they really in a private conversation or just like everyone else, chatting each other up..business style? Just walk up casually, sip your drink, smile and when there is a break, reach out and say hello. It's more awkward for you because you are overthinking it. Remember, everyone is there for the same reason...to meet, greet, network. They are usually not there to find a date. (a few are...but you will notice them).
I doubt they will mind someone walking up and listening.
Remember they want to meet YOU too, that's why they are there.
When you walk up and listen, it makes it easier for them to meet another person--your kind of doing them a favor.
Your presence there is more important than you are giving yourself credit for.
You don't have to be top dog, just be one of the dogs in the pack just be ready to bark a little bit when your in the right position.
@John Elias , another way to build networking confidence is to listen to a bunch of Bigger Pockets Podcasts. You can mirror the conversations/questions at your events - as if you are the host interviewing the guest (or vice-versa). The podcasts cover many aspects/professions in real-estate. You'll develop a list of go-to q's for any type of person you meet in the business.
Outside of that, figure out in your own mind:
1) What value can you provide to the people you meet?
2) What do you want from other people and/or what do you need help with?
These will steer your interactions in mutually beneficial ways.
Small talk isn't my strongest suit too, just like you. But about asking questions and doing follow-ups, there are actually studies that say people are liked better when they ask questions instead of doing all the talking. Of course that extends beyond professional networking. I keep that in mind when I'm feeling jittery at the prospect of talking to other people.
Great advise here. As an introvert myself i can relate to this subject, I think Scott gave some good tips, i think using them will help you, always keep in mind the other person you are talking too might be in the same spot as you, just be yourself and do it.
I would highly recommend reading "How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie," it is a great book for networking.
@John Elias You have to build rapport with anyone you intend to do business with. With that said you must remain focused on the value one can provide you and what you can provide others. When you find a match you will know. "small pebbles come from boulders" Think longball when networking and not a quick fix. The best relationships I have were cultivated overtime. It's also a numbers game. You will kiss many frogs before getting to the princess. All the best.
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