When I first became a real estate agent, the initial hurdle I had to overcome was: “How am I going to find my clients?” This is the one question that every new real estate agent faces, as their success depends wholly upon building a pipeline of paying clients. However, it’s a problem that not only real estate agents face — anyone starting or running their own business inevitably will find themselves asking this question.
Despite the fact that I work in sales, I am not inherently a salesperson. I didn’t let that stop me from getting into real estate, but I knew that because of my more reserved disposition, I had to figure out a different way. I started thinking about my “why” and how I wanted to be perceived. I decided to focus on playing up my strengths as much as possible, rather than trying to improve upon my weaknesses.
That led to a complete mindset shift, one that has been showering me with rewards, seemingly only after a few short months.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Since I am working in my hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina, my foundation as a part of this community is rock solid. It is something I have been slowly building up over years and years of living here, so while the success may seem like it came overnight, I can assure you that is an illusion.
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How to Find Win-Win Opportunities for You & Your Clients
How did I do it? I stopped scrambling to find clients. I stopped focusing on getting and focused on contributing. I started asking instead, “How can I become indispensable to my community?” and “What can I do today to make sure my friends are successful?” I knew that by taking care of other people first, I’d eventually be taken care of, too.
Anyone who has read Stephen Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People knows what I’m referring to: It’s known as the abundance mindset. Rather than seeing life as a zero sum game with a clear winner and loser, having an abundance mindset means you see the world in a completely different way — as a place with more than enough to go around. Win-win opportunities abound; all you have to do is relax and change your thinking. (I get it, easier said than done.)
As a real estate agent, rather than hounding people on whether they wanted to buy or sell, I just said, “If I can ever help you, let me know.” Keeping it open-ended worked extremely well, as I left it up to them to get in touch with me when they needed. After all, I wanted to be known as a problem solver — not their annoying real estate agent friend.
No expectations. No pushiness. Just a genuine desire to be helpful.
You can probably guess what happened next.
Friends started calling me. They approached with, “I am thinking of buying a house. Can you tell me what I should do first?” Or, “Hey, I know you do some rental property investing. Would you help me run some numbers?”
“Absolutely,” I’d said.
They started trusting me because they knew I wasn’t doing it just to make a sale. They knew my answer would always be, Of course, I’ll help! The irony of it was, once I proved my value, they didn’t want to work with anybody else.
It’s Not About You
This is the simple — but not easy — secret behind building any kind of business, real estate related or not: It’s not about you. It’s about how to best serve others.
You may be asking, “Where do I start?” Here are a few examples:
Introduce two people that you think should know each other.
Making meaningful connections is one of my favorite things to do because it helps TWO people at the same time!
Go the extra mile.
For example, if a contact asks me what a good rental property return is, instead of giving them an arbitrary number, I say, “Hey, I actually have built a spreadsheet for this, and you can plug in your own numbers and play around with it as needed. Would you like me to send it to you?”
Support your friend’s businesses.
Last year, I met a young entrepreneur who builds websites for startups. Since I am tuned into the startup scene here in the Triangle (Raleigh-Durham, NC), as soon as I got wind of anyone needing a website done, I would send them to him, simply because he knew how to build great sites for a price bootstrapped startups could afford. Almost immediately, he started sending real estate leads my way, without me even asking.
Focus on the relationship, not the sale.
A recent client was looking for an investment property, and though we’d found a perfect Class B property under $100K, he was also intrigued by a Class A complex down the road and brought it to my attention. I told him even though it was a nicer property, after running the numbers, it would not be as favorable for him as a long-term buy and hold investor.
If I’d solely focused on the sale, I would have made double the commission by pushing him toward the Class A property — but it would not have been in my client’s best interests, and he probably would be less likely to use me in the future if he’d felt short changed in any way.
I’m sure you can come up with more on your own, just in your day-to-day life!
When it comes down to it, it’s all about your mindset as you work on building your business. The abundance mindset has worked for me, and I’m nothing special — so I know it can work for you, too! There is a world of opportunity out there just waiting for you, and I firmly believe that the more opportunities you create for others, the more opportunities will be created for you.
So get out there!
Entrepreneurs: What’s your #1 tip for building a business from the ground up? Any suggestions you’d add to the list above?
Be sure you leave a comment below!