The term “networking” can be defined in many ways, but I believe Dr. Wayne Baker’s definition gets to the core of the word best: “The ability to relate well with others is a sign of a person’s mastery of the art of networking.”
As strange as it may seem to some, many people become frightened by the thought of meeting someone new and introducing their plans or concepts. Others see it is an opportunity to have a platform, but those who truly understand the importance of networking understand that simply building relationships should be the purpose when networking.
I bring this to your attention because it is always said when you are starting out in real estate, you need to network; go to your local real estate meetings, or tell everyone that you are changing your career, and you are now interested in being a multi-million dollar Real Estate Investor.
This is good and well, but many people still get it completely wrong when trying to network. This can be especially true of those who do not possess a certain natural affinity for connecting with others.
Let’s explore some of the pitfalls you might run into during a networking event.
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5 Actions to Avoid During a Networking Event
1. Having a “Me First” Attitude
The “me first” approach is the fastest way to turn anyone off.
An introduction such as, “Hi, I am Jim, and I am looking for a partner to JV deals with” is cold and insensitive, and you have just destroyed many potential relationships because this person will tell everyone that they know that you have your hand out. It is great to build a relationship; I know this is difficult during the first introduction, but probe to find something they are interested in, and try and create some sort of correlation.
You already know one thing that you both have in common real estate.
A better way to start out might be, “Hi, I am Jim and you are….? This is great being able to meet other investors. I am here trying to learn about duplex investing. What are you looking to learn? Section 8 housing? Wow, fantastic, well I hope you will be able to find what you are looking for, and if I happen to speak to someone who is investing in that arena, I will definitely mention your name. Can you do the same?”
You have to be a magnet for likeminded individuals; you are meeting people, providing assistance, and looking for others to reciprocate. This approach is much cleaner. You are still finding a way to navigate your way through the event until you are able to meet your need while helping others in return.
2. Being a Conversation Dominator
Please do not be the “jerk” of the room that everyone is talking about. This is primarily for the type-A personalities; try and exercise some humility.
Theodore Roosevelt said, “People do not care how much you know… until they know how much you care.”
Have you ever run into someone, only to do all the talking? Yeah, not good. Learn to listen; some people believe that in order to be heard, they must be continuously speaking. Stop talking about yourself or your potential deal or the deal you closed last week, and listen attentively. You may find a resource that you may need in the future.
3. Coming in Unprepared
Many people go to networking events not knowing what they are looking to give and get from the event.
Preparation is key; you want to evaluate if attending this event was the best use of your time. Please do not go to an event just because you happened to notice it was going on.
Is your goal to meet contractors, agents, lenders etc.? Also, know what you are looking to give, how can you help someone and what resources are you willing to give. You may have the name of a great escrow officer are you willing to share, for example.
4. Displaying a Closed Demeanor
The great Pittsburgh Steeler, quarterback Terry Bradshaw, once said, “You have to practice being happy.”
This puzzled me for some time; how do you practice being happy? Either you are or you are not.
Now, I do understand what he was referring to in this statement. Subconsciously, people evaluate your demeanor before approaching you. You may be a great guy or gal, but if you have a closed demeanor you will miss out on tons of opportunities.
What do I mean by closed demeanor? Standing with your arms crossed, not smiling. You have to be approachable and look happy — even if the world around you is failing.
5. Letting Contacts Go Stale
How many times have you left an event with 8 or 9 cards in your hand, only to get back to your office and place them in a drawer?
Raise your hand if you are guilty. Believe me, both of my hands are raised.
Now imagine if you call 2 of those contacts a week, just to show genuine concern about the projects they are working on, to discuss their mission statement, or to discuss what they are trying to accomplish. This is very difficult, but doable, and not all people are transparent enough to let you in.
This is not just for gaining a mentor or potential partner; it will also assist you in your communication skills and learning how to cold call. This may not be for everyone, but only people who are willing to make themselves uncomfortable are those who will succeed.
“Networking” is a great buzzword, but not many people are truly good at it. I am challenging myself to be more open to meeting new people and learning new tools. During your next real estate meeting — or any gathering — try not to do what you have always done, and see if you get a different result.
I am currently challenging myself to call one BiggerPockets Investor a week who is working in my area or the arena I would like to move into to discuss their strategy.
Are you up for the challenge? What strategies have worked for you when it comes to networking?
Let’s talk in the comments section below!