When you first start out in this business (real estate investing) most of your deals and leads will come from your marketing activities such as bandit signs, direct mail, the Internet and door knocking. After a while, if you are networking properly, many of your deals will begin coming from referrals from other investors. The key word in the last sentence is networking properly!
The Unskilled Real Estate Networker
I attend all of the REIA meetings in my area and I see people who walk around in the beginning of the meeting and just pass out their business cards to everyone. They don’t even talk to you, they just make their way around the room passing out the cards. This is the most bone headed thing to do! Networking is about relationship building, not about how many people have your business card at the end of the meeting (and anyone who just walks around and gives their card to me without talking to me; well, I immediately trash their card.)
Effective Real Estate Networking
When you are networking it is not about you, it is about the other person. When you first meet someone at an event, ask them about themselves. Find out what type of investing they do. Do they specialize in lease options, subject-to, wholesaling, or short sales? How can you help this person out? After you have talked with them for a while, ask them for their business card (by the way, when you ask for their card, they usually ask back for yours.) Most importantly, be genuine when you are asking people questions and talking with them.
Also, try not to spend too much time with one person. We all like our comfort zones and I know a lot of you talk to the same people every month at your REIA meetings. This month decide that you will meet new people. It’s really simple. Just walk up to them and start asking questions about their real estate investing activities (we all like to talk about ourselves, so people will appreciate that you are asking them questions.)
Don’t forget to be unique. At all networking events that I attend, I wear a black suit and my red Converse shoes. Everyone knows that I am the “red shoe” guy. Often people will seek me out and say “so and so told me to see the guy in the red shoes because he could answer my subject-to questions.” Another investor that I know always wears a Hawaiian shirt at all events. Every time that I see this guy it looks like he just got off of the beach.
The Importance of Follow-Up
Lastly, and of crucial importance to your success as a real estate investor, is to follow up with people after a networking event. If you said you were going to email someone the name of your attorney, then make sure and get them the name of your attorney. Or, if they are looking for a rehab and you just came across a new property, shoot the information to them.
So what are three networking events that you can attend this month and what value can you provide to the people you meet?