How to Take the “Work” Out of Networking (Even if You’re Nervous & Inexperienced)

by | BiggerPockets.com

“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

How many times have you heard that phrase? As cliché as it is, it’s true. Think about it. How many times have you applied for an opportunity to later find out that you were eked out by someone else who “knows a guy”? Or maybe you have been on the receiving end? You were given an opportunity because you received a positive reference from a friend or family member. I have seen this countless times.

It really is simple. If you want to significantly increase your chances at being successful, you need to build trust through networking.

I just heard the tens of thousands of readers GULP. “You mean I need to break out of my current routine to meet new people? Strangers?!?! And you want me talk to them about something I may have little to no experience with?”

You got it! Sounds like we are breaking ground here, Copernicus.

Don’t worry, though. The purpose of this article is to make networking easier for those who find it challenging—to build more confidence as you go into your next networking event and to leverage BiggerPockets to expand and build your network.

Before we delve in, I want to warn you. At first, networking will be uncomfortable. You will need to get over this hump. I promise you, each time you network, it will become easier and easier. Check out the article here on how to expand your comfort zone.

Using BiggerPockets to Network

If you are reading this article, it is likely not a secret that BiggerPockets is one of the best places for real estate investors to network with one another. However, I would argue that the majority of users are lurkers (you know who you are!), while many ONLY communicate in the forums.

If this is the case, you are missing out on the two best features for building your network:

  1. BiggerPockets Meet for one-on-one networking: https://www.biggerpockets.com/meet
  2. BiggerPockets Events for networking at scale: https://www.biggerpockets.com/forums/521-events-and-happenings

BiggerPockets Meet

BiggerPockets Meet is the part of BiggerPockets where you are able to see which investors are in your area. Let me show you a simple step by step process on how to take advantage of this:

  1. Go to biggerpockets.com/meet. A list of people in your area will automatically generate. Note that Pro members are able to interact with people outside of their area as well.
  2. Click “send colleague request.” You will be taken to a screen where you can write a message along with your request.
  3. Craft your message. Don’t know what to say? Here is some help. This is the message I used when first moved to Denver. Short, sweet, and to the point. It includes a brief introduction, what my next steps are, and a warm invitation to get together.

 “Hi [Insert their name here],

I just moved to Denver about a month ago and am looking to purchase my first property in the next couple of months. I wanted to reach out, say hi, and see if you would be available sometime this week to grab coffee/tea and talk real estate?

Best,

[insert your name here]
  1. Send this to 10 people each week. Meet with at least five of them. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you become acquainted with the major players in your community.
  2. Keep in touch. Meeting with someone once and then never talking again is useless. The best way to preserve the relationship is to understand what your newest friend’s goals are and to offer your help. This may mean giving feedback on their website or their new podcast or even just helping maintain their properties.

You can even ask them to do you a favor. As Ben Franklin said, “To make a friend, ask someone for a favor.” This is how you establish trust, provide value, and have a point of contact after the meeting.

real-estate-networking

Related: 10 Simple Actions to Substantially Build Your Network — Starting Today!

BiggerPockets Events

The second valuable feature is the BiggerPockets Events page. Go to www.biggerpockets.com/events. Here you will find a list of events going on in your area. Are there no events in your area? How about you create one? What better way to get involved with the real estate investor community than taking lead and being in charge of an REI meetup?

In order to take advantage of this, you actually have to attend the events. I know, I know. You’re an introvert. You’re tired. You need to go to the gym. You forgot to feed your cats this morning. I’ve heard all of the excuses.

Do you want to be like everyone else? If so, then this article is not for you and quite frankly, this site is not for you. We are about taking action and making positive changes in your life. Just thinking about it won’t get you anywhere.

If you have decided to be like the few who take action and attend this next event, GREAT! Keep reading, as I’m going to make your life easier with a few tips and tricks to make the most of your next networking event.

There are three parts to every networking event: pre-event, the event, and post-event. I’m going to give you tips on what to do at each of these times to make your next event less intimidating.

Pre-Event

Before the event begins, take a look online at the guest list. Who is going? Who do you want to meet? Write down who you’d like to meet and a little bit about them. That way, the “introduction” part of every conversation will stick with you and you can ask more valuable questions and have better conversation.

Think about your schooling days. Your teacher would always tell you to read the chapter before going over the exact same subject in class. I never did this, but now I know why they asked. It is so the subject can be familiar to you and you can ask any relevant questions in the 45 minutes of class time.

Same concept here. Do your homework. Study up on the people going, and you will certainly make the most of your time at the event.

At the Event

Now you’re at the event. You are new to real estate and do not have much to contribute or to offer. You see someone you want to talk to. What do you do?

First off, do not hesitate. Do not try to rehearse the conversation in your head. There are a million ways it can go, and I can promise you it will not be exactly how you envision. Walk over with as much confidence as possible (without looking like a jerk), shake hands, and introduce yourself.

I like to ease my way into the serious conversation with a little bit of small talk. This is not for everyone. However, a minute or two of small talk is a good way to get the other person comfortable talking to you before you get in to the meat and potatoes.

Some examples of introduction talk can be:

  1. “Have you been here before?”
  2. “Do you know anyone here?”
  3. “What do you think of the event?”
  4. “How did you get into real estate investing?”
  5. “Sweet mustache, man.” Then go into one of the questions above.

Talk to them as if you were talking to a new friend. That is what they are. There’s nothing to be nervous about. What’s the worst that can happen? The conversation is slightly awkward? There is no connection? That’s fine. Move on to meeting the next person. For every person you do not connect with, you are one person closer to connecting with who really matters.

Now for the most critical part of any networking event.

After you have had a great conversation and you feel as though you’d like to keep in touch, ask for their business card or contact information. If you don’t get anyone’s contact information, it is worse than not going at all. Not only are you unable to be in touch with any of the people you’ve just met, but you’ve wasted 2-3 hours of your time attending the event for absolutely no returns.

This can be nerve racking for some people, but guess what? If you’re at a networking event, everyone is there to network, and they want to exchange information. I have been to countless networking events, and not once have I ever been denied contact information.

Post-Event

The event has ended, and you now have a stack of business cards of the people you just met. On the back (or somewhere on the business card), write down what you learned about that person and what you talked about. I like to write two or three business-related things that interested me most and maybe one fun thing we connected over.

And now for the step that will separate you from 99 percent of other people. Actually FOLLOW UP!

It baffles me how many people go to these events, get contact information, and then neglect to follow up. That’s like going to class, getting a homework assignment, completing the homework assignment, and then not turning it in. The hard part is done. Now cash in.

interest-based

Related: The Top 10 Mistakes Real Estate Investors Make at Networking Events

After 24-48 hours, write an email to the person you’ve just met. Maybe it goes something like this:

“Hi [insert their name here],

My name is [insert your name here], and we met at the meetup last night. I just wanted to say it was great sharing experiences with you as a real estate investor. I especially appreciate you telling me about some of the mistakes you made as a landlord. Let’s be in touch and maybe grab coffee/tea at some point in the next couple of weeks. If there is any way I can help you out, don’t hesitate to ask.

Sincerely,

[insert your name here]

Conclusion

Jim Rohn says, “You are the average of the five people you associate with the most.” By attending these events, you will surround yourself with people who are where you want to be. You will make friends with similar mindsets. You will meet mentors, business partners, and maybe even future spouses.

After attending 2-3 times, you will be considered one of the “regulars,” and that uncomfortable feeling will be long gone. I challenge you to NOT be like everyone else. Take action. Do your research, attend the next networking event, talk to at least five people you don’t know, and FOLLOW UP.

See you at the next event!

What strategy do you use to successfully connect at networking events? What’s your biggest hangup in attending these gatherings?

Leave your thoughts below.

About Author

Craig Curelop

After developing a huge love for real estate investing and personal finance, Craig decided to join the BiggerPockets team as a financial analyst. Over the past few years, he has looked at hundreds of financial models of startup companies. His experience will help BiggerPockets reach the next level as a startup company. Craig has a passion for helping others get out of their "comfort zones" to get what they want and achieve the "impossible." In his spare time, Craig enjoys traveling, hiking, exercising, and sports of all kinds.

4 Comments

  1. Thomas Fawole

    Craig, thank you for this insightful article. I just have a question. I know in marketing, the gurus advise that one should keep emailing marketing materials to prospects forever unless they unsubscribe. Now, when it comes to networking, if you send a follow-up email after the initial meeting but the real estate professional does not respond, do you stop contacting them or should you give them a couple of weeks or months and then attempt to contact them again?

    • Craig Curelop

      Hi Thomas,

      Thank you for reading. I am glad you enjoyed it. That’s a good question.

      If you want to talk to that person, I would follow-up again in a week or two. Think of it this way. By following up, you can not end up in a worse situation. If they still do not answer, you’re in the same situation as if you never asked. If they do answer, then you have yourself a new connection.

      Hope this helps!

  2. Terri Noble

    Thanks for this great article Craig. I have been “Lurking” on BP for about a month now and you article has inspired me to make contact with others in my area. I am new to investing, 2 rental properties in 2 months, and have made every rookie mistake in the book. Thanks for spelling it all out….. I am going to do it!

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