For many people, the word “networking,” makes them want to hide under the covers. Even though agents are known for their ability to charm and chat, the idea of real estate networking can spook them. But the truth is, networking is a crucial part of running a real estate business: it expands your sphere of influence, allows you to collect industry-relevant information, and it generates leads. To up your networking game, I’ve put together a list of my favorite, effective, easy-to-follow tips, and the beauty of it is, you can get started right away. 

1. Make Networking a Lifestyle

I don’t mean networking in a hollow, handing-out-business-cards-at-your-kid’s-baseball-game kind of way. When you network, your goal is to always be on the lookout for ways to make a connection with someone. If done thoughtfully, your kid’s baseball game is actually a great place to network, especially if you’re just looking for that first handshake

Getting to know the team parents, coaches, and team sponsors is just extending your sphere of influence. You don’t have to saddle up next to the pitcher’s mom with a new listing flier. Instead, use these opportunities to organically ensure that people know your business and that you’re always available to help. This extends to every area of life: book clubs, parent-teacher organizations, pickleball teams, alumni and neighborhood groups, happy hours, and the ever-classic networking activity, golf. 

2. Look for Ways to Help

As a real estate professional with specialized training and tons of experience, you are one of the most informed people in the room. You know about schools, development projects, zoning, design trends, pricing, interest rates, and hot new restaurants. You know tons of people and are good at connecting them. You understand your community’s history and can predict its future, probably better than most. 

That puts you in a unique position to be helpful. So think of “networking” as looking to offer help to someone else. This could mean offering to write recommendations and reviews, carry groceries, host informational meetings with young people in their career search, volunteer at local schools, sponsor teams, serve on nonprofit boards, or plan community events. 

In Charleston we deal with flooding, and there are plenty of opportunities to serve the community in flood mitigation planning. These boards attract plenty of agents who are eager to improve their community with their real-estate-specific perspective. Not only does offering to help demonstrate your abilities, skills, experience, and generosity, but it also builds loyalty and puts goodness out there that is sure to circle back. 

3. Be Prepared

If you treat every interaction as an opportunity to meet, connect, and be helpful, you must always stay ready with your elevator pitch. You might even need several versions of it—one for a kid’s sports event, one for a luxury real estate conference, and one for when you’re in line at the grocery store. 

Make sure you can explain not only your work but also what unique value you bring. Your pitch should include what sets you apart and what special skills and experience you offer. Bonus points for practicing pitches with friends, family, fellow agents, and in front of the mirror. Here’s an example elevator pitch:

4. Set Networking Expectations

Chances are you’re not going to sell a home today to someone you met at the grocery store this morning. But let’s say you add that person to your email list, and they start to receive your monthly newsletters. Then, a year later, they want a new home and give you a call. Fantastic. But not every person you meet will become a client, and you can’t go into every single interaction expecting it to turn into a deal. 

Often, sitting down with your target demographic through networking leads to a better understanding of their needs, concerns, and experiences. Sometimes, reviewing your target demographic will lead to learning about something new: a new housing development, skill, or technology. The key to successful real estate networking is understanding that as you network and your sphere expands, so do the opportunities. 

5. Actually Listen

We’ve all met that person who asks a question and then immediately loses focus while you answer—their eyes stray and scan the room, looking for someone more important to talk to. Don’t be that person. When you ask a question, listen to the answer. Yes, it’s good manners, but it’s also important for successful networking in real estate. You never know what a casual conversation could lead to, and if someone drops a hint that they have a real estate need, you want to be right there to pick it up. 

6. Think of Good Questions

It’s easy to zone out if you ask boring questions. Remind yourself of what you’re trying to accomplish by making these connections, and then ensure your questions get to the heart of what you need. Instead of asking a potential lead, “What do you do?” ask, “What do you think has been the secret to your success?” Imagine what their answer will reveal. You’ll immediately get insight into their experience, but more importantly, their values. It’s the kind of information that could be invaluable if you eventually deliver a listing presentation.

Of course, it depends on the networking situation, but here are some questions that go beyond the basics: 

  • How do you spend your time? 
  • What do you like to do for fun?
  • Have you had positive or negative experiences with Realtors?
  • What’s the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
  • What’s something you’ve done that I should do?
  • How can someone like me provide value to you?

7. Ask for Help 

While we’re often in a position to offer help, sometimes we’re the ones in need, and it can be hard to ask. The secret to keep in mind is that people actually like being asked to help—they like to feel like they can be of service to others (just like you do when practicing tip No. 2). 

Just be sure that when you do ask for help, you’re very clear about what you need. You might be asking for an introduction to a big-time developer or need the name of a new mortgage broker. You might be asking for a review from a client or a referral to a friend or family member. You might not always get what you want, but there’s no harm in asking.  

8. Take Notes

As you’re chatting with someone, you’ll probably learn a lot about them: their interests, their career path, and their kid’s baseball record. While we think we’ll remember all the little details, we probably won’t. Keep careful notes (ideally in your customer relationship manager) so that when you reach out in the future, you can check to see how things are going—did little Timmy win that tournament? It helps to be thoughtful and engaged. Like Michael Scott’s Rolodex in The Office, those little nuggets of personal detail can help turn a warm lead into a signed client.

Dwight Schrute from The Office holding rolodex card with "tall" and "beets" written on it.
Rolodex notes (Source: Reddit)

9. Follow Up

When agents ask how to network as a real estate agent, this step is crucial but often overlooked. For networking to be effective, you have to follow up. The follow-up cadence can vary based on the relationship, but if you meet someone once and never send an email or text again, you’ve wasted your time. Use your customer relationship manager (CRM) to set up an alert, check the notes you took after your last meeting, and send a message. You don’t have to write a novel and you don’t have to write too often (it could even be as simple as reaching out on social media), but make sure those lines of communication stay open.

Of course, the only CRM you’ll use is the one you like. My favorite affordable CRM is Wise Agent. It’s user-friendly and intuitive, and its automations make it easy to manage leads and stay in touch with your networking contacts.

Visit Wise Agent

10. Network With Fellow Agents 

Networking isn’t all lead generation and sphere of influence—it’s also about building a real estate agent network within your own industry. Maybe you’re wondering how to network with real estate agents, but even more than that, you’re wondering why. The simple answer is that fellow agents provide a support group (who else understands the torture of a dad following the home inspector around when his daughter is under contract?). 

Fellow agents can also be valuable referral sources, especially if you’re specialized. Not every agent works with first-time homebuyers, but if that’s your jam, other agents you network with can recommend you. Additionally, fellow agents and brokers can offer career opportunities. Perhaps you’re recruiting for your team or interested in joining a new brokerage. Networking helps you keep doors and options open. 

One of our favorite resources for inner-industry networking and referrals is NuOp. It’s an easy way to solicit and receive referrals—and it’s completely free.

Check Out NuOp

11. Network Online

We love in-person networking, but don’t underestimate the value of connecting and maintaining relationships on social media! While LinkedIn is the obvious one—and very important for career networking in real estate—be sure to consider other channels as well. We have several guides to help you make the most of social media platforms and leverage them in your networking. 

  1. LinkedIn for real estate agents
  2. Ways to drive engagement on Instagram
  3. Facebook Pages that bring in leads 
  4. Videos perfect for nurturing leads
  5. Facebook mastermind groups

Secrets to Real Estate Networking for Introverts 

Real estate networking can actually be really fun. It can also be pretty easy, even for my introverts out there. Remember that networking doesn’t have to be transactional or opportunistic. It’s just about making connections. And you, as an agent, do that every single day. As you think about how you might implement the tips above into your networking approach, try to orient your thinking away from anxiety-inducing, old-school networking and toward a bright new day, where the goal is to simply have a good conversation. The people you meet and network with are going to help you build your business and a successful real estate career

If you’re an introvert, we have a few tips specifically for you:

  • Focus on smaller groups: Find networking opportunities in one-to-one coffee dates.
  • Utilize social media: Liaising online can be just as effective as in-person networking.
  • Get a networking buddy: Bring someone along that is easy to be around and will give you confidence.
  • Know you can leave: If you need to do a bigger networking event, make a goal for yourself (e.g., meet five new people) and then let yourself go home. 

Where to Network in Person

a large crowd enjoys a real estate networking event
A large networking event (Source: Product School)

While I’m a firm believer that every event is a networking event, there are specific opportunities for those wondering how to network as a real estate agent. Here are some of our favorite places and ways to network in person:

  • Local realtor association board
  • Chamber of Commerce 
  • Volunteer opportunities
  • Alumni groups
  • Real estate conferences
  • Host your own events (a first-time homebuyer educational event, for example)
  • Join the board of nonprofits you support
  • Offer real estate education to local religious organizations 
  • Meet regularly with a team of experts related to your industry

The Close writer and real estate coach Trevor James has this advice to offer: 

“Remember your niche. You might have a local LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce or a Women’s Leadership group in town. Get involved with your people. Organize a local food drive or coordinate a community event. Two birds with one stone: develop yourself personally as well as professionally.”

trevor james headshot

Trevor James, writer and real estate coach, The Close

Bringing It All Together

The most effective way to network as a real estate agent is to make it a lifestyle. Be constantly looking for ways to provide value to others, to ask thoughtful questions, and to connect with members of your community. Networking allows you to give back, offer knowledge, gather information, and expand your sphere of influence. Being friendly and interested in others is the first step, and by far the easiest one.

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