Sitting in my car, my palms were sweating. I was nauseous. I had one of those big lumps in my bone dry throat.
I was about to walk into my first networking meeting as a new real estate investor. I had just wound down my flooring business and there I was – about to make my first foray into a Chamber of Commerce “Business After Hours” networking event as a “full time real estate investor”.
I had been dreading this event all day, all week in fact. Actually, I had been dreading it ever since I wrote my check out of my new Holdem Realty checking account to join the Chamber.
I had bought one of those “guru” real estate investing training programs and although most of the training was pretty worthless, one of the biggest things they kept reinforcing is that in order to really launch your career – you have to network – you have to “get out there” and make yourself visible.
Although I knew it was the right advice, it scared the crap out of me. So much so that as I sat in my car, I half thought about slipping the transmission into drive and returning to the cozy confines of home.
But I didnt.
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Do The Thing You Fear Most and You Control Fear
Tony Robbins once said that. I know its good advice, but it doesn’t mean that its easy to do it. Being totally out of my comfort zone was my own personal “thing I feared most”…but Tony made it sound so simple to do.
Why was I so afraid?
After all as a flooring guy, I had done dozens of these kinds of networking events. I actually got pretty good at them. And I had always tried to welcome the new guys to those events and make them feel comfortable.
I saw them come in, nervously look around for a friendly face and try to fit in. I had always tried to help them.
But would someone do that for me now?
Being The New Guy in a New Town
Now the tables had turned – now I was the new guy. I was the “full time real estate investor” – with no contacts, no experience, no real knowledge and worse yet…no deals.
On top of that, I knew nobody. I was in a new town and a new networking group.
But I knew I had to do it. Sitting in my car waiting to go in…I realized I had to just dive in and figure it out as I went along.
After ten minutes, I finally got out of the car and walked in…
Take The First Step In Faith
Everyone (including me – now that I help new real estate investors) tells you that you have to meet other people to be successful in real estate investing. I knew that networking was the key to my success.
After all, my first house flip years before had come about from networking…sort of. With a friend of mine as a partner, we had done our first deal together. That’s when I got my first taste of this real estate investing thing.
Now I was going to do it on my own…without a safety net. Its what I had always wanted to do – so networking was the way to do it.
I once heard this quote from Martin Luther King:
“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
I took the first step on the staircase and I walked in – having NO idea how many steps were on that staircase.
Taking The First Step…
When I walked in, I was greeted at the the door, got my name badge and looked around. I had nobody to talk to.
Everyone else seemed to know eveyone else and I knew nobody.
How long would I stand there by myself before someone came over to say hello?
Nobody did, so I took a big gulp and strolled up to the bar where there were a coupple of other guys sitting chatting. Although I had done this many times before, I couldnt think of single thing to say.
Thankfully, one of them turned to me and stuck his hand out and introduced himself. He was a local carpenter and he was chatting with a local painter.
What great flooring contacts! I thought to myself.
Nope. I introduced myself – for the very first time, mind you – as a full time real estate investor. And although the conversation was a bit forced an maybe even a bit uncomfortable, I had done it.
That night, I did the same thing on numerous other occasions (maybe the two Bud Lights helped a bit to calm my nerves) and met a half dozen or so other local people.
Looking back, I was horrible at it that night. But I kept going.
Taking more steps on the staircase, I signed up for more networking groups like BNI and REIA where I did the same thing – sometimes sitting in my car before each one, sweating bullets before I went in…
But over time, the fear became less and less and less. I started to know lots of people at these events. And not only that, the contacts I made were – believe it or not – actually helping to grow my business.
I met bankers, contractors, real estate agents, hard money lenders and other real estate investors. I formed partnerships. I started to get “inside information” on new homes coming on the market. I had a list of contractors and guys I could get money from.
My networking was really starting to pay off.
I wasn’t good at it at first, but I did do it.
The Fear of The Unknown Is Never As Bad As You Think
I think back to that first night in my car and I chuckle a bit now. What was I so scared of? Easy for me to think that way now. But I remember…it was the fear of the unknown.
It was the fear of taking the first step on the staircase. And although it really sucked to do it…I am so glad I did. In fact, when I think about it today, the fear of the unknown is never really as bad as I think it will be.
Was it uncomfortable? Yes. Was it awkward? Heck yeah.
Did it help my business? Without a doubt.
As fearful as that fear of the unknown is at the time, its actually not that bad. It doesn’t mean its easy to overcome…don’t get me wrong, its not. But its not as horrible as your mind makes it out to be.
What kinds of fears do you face when you first started in real estate? Or if you haven’t started yet, whats holding you back now?
Please leave a comment below and tell me. Maybe somehow, some way, we can all help you get through it and take that first step on the staircase…
Photo: Toni Blay