Learning how to create a real estate network you can really rely on is critical for any new real estate investor. Business partnerships form the cornerstone of every type of business. Interpersonal relationships, whether they be long-lasting friendships, mutually-beneficial partnerships, or arms-length social media connections, are vital to expanding your real estate business. In fact, they are vital to just running an investment business. So, here is Mashvisor’s guide on how to build a strong real estate network.
Mashvisor is a site that will help you find and evaluate investment properties and offers helpful tools to real estate investment professionals.
What the Word Network Means
The word “network” is a noun (a group of people), and also a verb (an action). When used as a noun, a network is an interconnected group of people that share common interests and skills. These people can help one another to achieve their goals or come to one another’s assistance. Think of your personal life. You have a vast network of friends and family. You share interests and past experiences with them and you would help them when called upon. One can create a similar group for one’s real estate network. The network will likely also include friends because, over time, relationships grow closer. However, you will also have many folks in your network you only interact with when a real estate business transaction is being done. There is no fine line. One thing you will discover is that the people with the best networks have many contacts who think of them as friends.
Networking is the act of using one’s network in a meaningful way or cultivating new contacts. It would be impolite to say to someone at an event, “I’m here to network,” but it may also be true. Networking is a bit like actively seeking friends that can help you attain your objectives. Like any relationship, it has to work both ways. You need to be a resource to your contacts within your real estate network. The more support and help you can give, the more you will receive in return.
Why Networking Is Important
To get insight on why networking is so critical for those in real estate investing, Mashvisor reached out to a global expert on the subjects of real estate trends, business practices, and leadership development. Matthew Ferrara has more than thirty years in the industry. His company provides insights and strategy for the largest real estate firms and networks around the world. Mr. Ferrara told us,
The vast majority of business in real estate is driven by someone’s sphere of influence, not just marketing, and advertising. It’s also true that many investment and development opportunities are driven by insights, referrals, and recommendations from the real estate professional’s network. Real estate is a business of people helping people, whether they’re getting together in person, chatting on the phone or keeping in contact using social media.
Developing a Real Estate Network
Like any network, a real estate network is a group that you create through interactions that will help you in your business. There is no end to the ways in which one can develop a real estate investment network. As a beginner real estate investor, you have the limited resources that you need to help you. These tend to be formal relationships. For example, your real estate agent may be your first, and perhaps most important, of your early connections. Next, your mortgage broker or the lender who works at your bank may be an early member of your network. These are people that you will pay money to for a certain result. However, as you will quickly discover, you can “get more from” these relationships than just the results you pay for. These people can – and will – help you in many ways that go beyond the call of duty. For example, a realtor knows the best property closing lawyer in your area. He or she knows who is easy to work with, and equally important, who isn’t. A realtor can refer you to more people to grow your budding network.
Expand Your Real Estate Business Network
Who Should Be In Your Network
Mr. Ferrara told Mashvisor that the scope of those you should look to include in your network knows no bounds.
Real estate investment is embedded in a community’s broader economic and social context, so investment professionals need to know what’s happening in a market’s demographics, economic investment, regulatory environment, and educational community. That’s why their network should include academics who keep an eye on population trends and diversity, researchers at business schools who watch jobs and investment patterns, local and state regulators who propose business rules impacting investment, and leaders in ancillary industries such as travel, tourism and recreation who can offer perspectives on social trends in entertainment and shopping which lead to new investment opportunities.
Person to Person Networking
It will come as no surprise that the best way to grow your real estate network is to simply ask those already in it for a referral to the right person. Do you need a septic system inspection in order to sell a property? Who better to ask than the real estate agent that is helping you sell it? He or she wants that septic to pass. The realtor knows who will help you best to achieve your goals. When the technician comes to inspect your system, chat with the person. Tell them who referred you. Ask them things about themselves. People enjoy speaking to others about themselves and what they do. These informal discussions can lead to a closer relationship. Start with shared interests. Once you have more than a formal customer-provider relationship, more is possible.
Never miss a chance to form a connection that goes beyond formal. Are you staging a home for sale, or for rental photography? The people doing that work meet every other real estate investor in your area and they know what works and what does not. They also have a long list of contacts you can leverage. Be sure that your communications with people like this do not end at the end of the job.
Those exploring ways how to network in real estate will find that business groups like the local chamber of commerce are helpful. These are local business people who are interested in meeting you and are people you may also help in return. Moreover, they have a vested interest in the community in which your business is established. Join and lend a hand any way you can.
Other business groups are even more focused on your specific business. Take for example the American Apartment Owners Association (AAOA). This is a real estate investment group whose members, like you, own rental properties. Who better to rub shoulders with!? This group is made up of seasoned pros in your business. They have the answers you need and can help you.
If you own a condominium, there is a homeowners’ association (HOA). It has to have open meetings by law, and these HOA meetings can be extremely good opportunities for you to network with real estate investors. And not just any type of investor. These are ones who are so similar to you that they bought a unit in the same complex that you chose to.
Attending events related to your business is always helpful. Anyone in attendance is a person with which you can add to your social network. They came to do exactly that. Look for opportunities to attend real estate trade shows and industry events. When you get there, leave your comfort zone and actively seek to speak to as many people as you can. This isn’t dating. There is no need to be self-conscious.
Social Media Networking
One of the modern spins on networking is social media for real estate investors. You may already be using Facebook to keep in contact with your friends and family. These platforms can be fun and interesting. But beware. They also can trend in a way that isn’t helpful. Are you that person that posts fifteen political memes a week on your view? Of course, your view is the right one, but, bear in mind that about half of the people who see that post have the opposite view. They don’t want to see it from a person in their real estate network. Use social media in a smart, professional, and friendly way. Some users opt to create a separate profile and account to use for their professional life and keep the personal profile away from their business network.
LinkedIn is another powerful networking tool that was created specifically for professional networking. If you are not using it, start to as soon as you finish this story. How powerful is LinkedIn? Your author found Mashvisor there and that connection eventually resulted in a job. People can and will look for you on LinkedIn to offer business opportunities. Populate your profile honestly and completely and let the tool work for you. You can also use LinkedIn to actively find resources and new connections in your real estate network.
Strengthen Your Network
Every good real estate agent is a networking professional. Have you ever noticed that real estate agents use their photo on business cards and on their advertising posters? They know that the best ways to build and maintain connections are through friendship, and they want to connect with you directly and on a personal level. Yes, Isabella from RE/MAX is part of her company, but she wants you to think of her as Isabella the person. Not as “The woman from RE/MAX.”
Organize Your Network
As your real estate network grows, a stack of business cards and browser links is not going to cut it. You need a formal system by which you organize and communicate with your growing list of real estate network contacts. Linked In is a handy tool, as is Facebook. Google Contacts or Apple’s organizer is also a helpful tool. However, almost everyone in any sort of sales job uses a formal software program to help them. The term for this type of software is Customer Relationship Management (CRM). Although it starts with the word customer, one could just as easily substitute “real estate network member.” These tools allow you to very quickly record interactions you have with people in your network and to bookmark follow up with them. When you speak to them next, you can look back and recall instantly what you learned about the person and what you spoke about. It can be a powerful tool, but it takes discipline and a bit of your time to use it properly. Choose whatever method works best for you, but do choose and make it a method.
Developing a real estate network is critical to your real estate career. The help you need is out there. Creating and growing your real estate network is just as important as growing the number of units you own. It’s never too late to start networking. Start today.