A Guide to Growing and Nurturing Your Professional Network
Jacqueline Kyo Thomas
Real estate is known as the relationship business. But it would be a mistake to only focus on building relationships with your clients. You must build real relationships with other real estate professionals. The real estate industry may be competitive, but no rule says you can’t be collaborative.
Teaming up with other agents can be hugely beneficial for you at any stage of your career but especially in the beginning. You can get referrals, resources, and support to help you build the career you’ve always wanted. It all starts with who you know and how you leverage it.
Let’s discuss how to build and strengthen your professional relationships with other agents.
Attending open houses is a simple but effective strategy that offers a ton of benefits, especially for new real estate agents. Here's why:
Open houses are a convergence point for real estate professionals, prospective buyers, and sometimes even residents. They offer an excellent opportunity for agents to network, exchange contact information, and foster relationships.
Open houses can also lead to collaborative opportunities. You might find an agent whose client needs a property like the one you have listed or vice versa.
Attending open houses gets a bad rap but, as a new agent, train yourself to love open houses. It’s not merely about viewing properties. Open houses give you the chance to develop professionally, understand the market better, and build your network at the same time.
One of the best ways to build a relationship with a fellow agent is to offer to host their open house. As mentioned earlier, open houses have a reputation for being a waste of time. For this reason, many experienced agents hate hosting them. However, if you want to pay your dues and also earn goodwill from another agent, you can volunteer to host the open house in their stead.
This gesture will be appreciated, especially by busy agents who might be juggling multiple listings or commitments.
Plus, if you’re a new agent and you’re hosting for a seasoned agent, you can gain invaluable insights. From the way they've staged the house to the marketing materials they use, there's a wealth of knowledge you can gain.
But you’re not just earning brownie points with the agent you’re hosting for, you’ll also get a chance to interact with other agents who may attend the open house. Use this opportunity to expand your professional network.
Ultimately, offering to host can open doors for future collaborations. In the future, you might co-list properties with this agent, share advertising costs, or refer clients to each other.
It’s a win-win, no matter how you slice it.
Unless you live in a one-real estate-agent town, there are bound to be local meetups for real estate agents in your area. Real estate agents tend to be a social bunch. Local real estate meetups give you a chance to network and build a reputation for yourself in your community. Here are several ways to find these meetups:
Most cities or regions have local real estate associations or boards. These organizations frequently host meetings, seminars, and networking events for agents. Become a member or check their websites regularly for upcoming events.
Platforms like Meetup.com have groups for virtually every interest, and that includes real estate. Search for real estate groups in your area, and you're likely to find a few gatherings, seminars, or casual meetups.
Look close to home. Your brokerage may already host or be aware of regular meetups. Larger brokerages often have training sessions, workshops, and networking events.
Many local real estate communities have dedicated Facebook or LinkedIn groups. Follow local real estate hashtags (such as #BostonRealtors) or search for local real estate groups on these platforms.
Coworking spaces often host events for professionals which includes those in the real estate industry. Check out local coworking spaces for an event calendar of upcoming professional events.
While not strictly for real estate, the local Chamber of Commerce can be a great place to discover networking events. When you attend these events, you’ll meet everyone from potential clients to fellow real estate professionals.
Simply asking around can be one of the most effective methods of meeting new agents. Reach out to senior agents at your firm, your mentor, or other agents you know and ask where they go to network and learn.
One of the best ways to meet other agents is through volunteering for a committee. Volunteering, especially within real estate associations or related organizations, can be a strategic move for new agents. Here’s why and how:
Exposure - Being part of a committee gives you face time with experienced agents, brokers, and other industry professionals. If you regularly volunteer, you can build lasting professional relationships to sustain your career.
Collaborative Opportunities - Committee work often requires collaboration. You’ll likely need to work closely with others. This can lead to potential business partnerships or referrals in the future.
Expanded Skillset - Committees can help you hone skills outside of traditional real estate tasks. This may include event planning, public speaking, or negotiation.
Research Local Organizations - Start by making a list of local real estate associations and boards that may need volunteer help. Most of these organizations have committees dedicated to various functions, from event planning to public relations.
Attend General Meetings - Before volunteering, attend a few general meetings to get a feel for the organization and its active members.
Express Interest - Don't wait for an open call for volunteers. Proactively reach out to the leadership or administrative contact of the organization to express your interest in volunteering.
Start Small - If you're unsure where to begin, volunteer for a short-term task or subcommittee. It will give you a taste of committee work without a long-term commitment.
Demonstrate Value - When you do volunteer, be proactive and reliable. Offer ideas and take responsibilities seriously, ensuring you're seen as a valuable asset.
Network Actively - Utilize breaks, downtime, or social events to engage with fellow committee members. Building personal relationships can often lead to professional collaborations.
Volunteering for committees is not just about giving back to the industry or community, although that’s good stuff. However, volunteering is a strategic move that can jumpstart networking and relationship-building.
Regularly checking in with your professional network is essential for maintaining and strengthening your new relationships. It’s important to strike the right balance so that your approach is genuine and not overly persistent or insincere. Here are some best practices to follow:
Reach out with sincere intent always. Don’t only call when you need something. People can easily distinguish between a genuine check-in and a self-serving one.
Don't always use the same method of communication. Sometimes a phone call is appropriate, other times an email, a text, or a direct message on a social media platform might be better. A quick comment on social media can keep you top of your mind.
Keep your check-ins brief and to the point. If you're reaching out by phone, start by asking if it's a good time to chat.
Avoid generic messages. People can tell when you’re copying and pasting your outreach. Tailor your approach based on how well you know the person and the nature of your relationship.
If they share updates or challenges during your check-ins, listen actively. It's a chance for you to provide value or show empathy. Also, make note of these details (if not sensitive) so that you can follow up in future conversations.
Forward articles, webinars, or events that you believe will be beneficial to your contacts. But keep it specific and don’t just blast out the same email to everyone on your list. Add a personal note explaining why you thought of them.
Remember birthdays, work anniversaries, or other special dates. A simple message can make the people in your network feel valued.
Occasionally, reach out and seek their expert opinion on an industry-related topic. This shows that you respect their insights.
Instead of random check-ins, establish a periodic catch-up, such as a bi-monthly coffee chat. By having a regular meeting on the calendar, you show the other person that you value the relationship.
In addition to direct messages, occasionally engage with their posts by liking, commenting, or sharing. It keeps you on their radar without being intrusive. Believe me, they’ll notice.
If you come across a situation where you can offer help, such as introducing them to a potential client or sharing a resource, do so. It's a great way to stay connected.
Use client relationship management (CRM) tools to set reminders when it’s time to reach out to your contacts. You’re busy and you will forget. But your CRM won’t.
If someone doesn't respond after a couple of attempts, give them space. They may be busy or going through a challenging time.
The key to effective check-ins is to be thoughtful and purposeful. By showing genuine interest in the well-being and success of those in your network, you will build deeper and more meaningful professional relationships.
Building and strengthening professional relationships with other agents takes effort, but it’s essential to do so. If you want a real estate career that stands the test of time, you must prioritize genuine connections over short-term gains. Start implementing the above tips today and watch your professional network grow by leaps and bounds.