Social Butterfly or Scared to Death: As a Real Estate Investor, You Must Network

When I survey the members of my Real Estate Investor Association as to what the number one resource of MAREI might be and I will get two versions of the same answer: The Networking and The People.  Do keep in mind like death and taxes, Networking is one of the two major activities.

As a Real Estate Investor, You Must Network

Are You Networking?

As new real estate investors, we are told to go network. We need to build our team, to grow our resource, to find private money, to find deals, to find service providers and more. So, most diligently seek out MAREI (Mid-America Association of Real Estate Investors) or maybe a Meetup. They go to the meeting. And they totally waste every opportunity.

Just this past week at our local REIA meeting, we had 200 plus in the room during networking. But a survey of that room showed about 100 of those sitting in their seats talking with the person they came with. Not don’t get me wrong, I get it, some of us have had a long hard day and we just want a few minutes to relax. But relaxing at the REIA meeting during networking is NOT the time.

Take a look at this photo taken of the presentation area during the networking portion of the meeting.  See the folks networking – they are either standing up and talking to each other or they are turned and facing people.  Note the guys in the green shirts at the back?  These are the guys from Auction.com being Ambassadors, more on that later.  But note the folks with their eyes locked on the front of the room or on their phone.  They are totally missing out on 50% of the benefit of the meeting.


So I asked myself, why are these folks sitting around and not networking. And I have three theories.

  • They are SCARED to get up and talk to strangers
  • They have no idea HOW to network.
  • They are NEW and think they have nothing to offer.

Newbies

I want to address the Newbies who think they have nothing to offer to get it out of the way.

Sure, your new, but every person in every industry was new once upon a time.

Do you think that the hot shots at the REIA started out doing all those killer deals right off? No, they had to learn the ropes, do a few deals and now everyone wants to be their friend. So, get out there and learn the ropes.

When I was an agent at Keller Williams, our team leader had a saying that we wanted to work with and teach all the brand new real estate agents because you never know when that brand new agent will turn into the mega listing person.  And at your REIA meeting, you never know when that person you met at your very first meeting might help you become a raging success in the industry.  It just takes one person and a conversation to change your world.

Plus, right now today, you might have something to offer outside of real estate, so don’t be afraid to share. Case in point, I was teaching a newbie investor workshop, and we went around the room to all of the 20 or so “students” in the room. One owned a printing company that made signs, it was like pulling teeth to get her to tell us what she did outside of real estate. She could not see why would anyone have an interest in printing and signs at a real estate event.

SCARED & CLUELESS

Many are very scared to network or clueless as to how to go about it.

This morning as I was reading my Google Newsfeed I came across an article titled “How To Network With The Best Of Them, Even If You’re An Introvert” by Jane Finkle on MindBodyGreen. It addressed networking in general for people who have a hard time connecting with other people in a networking setting. It did a great job of tackling the scared part and the no idea how part. Be sure to click through and read it.  In the rest of this blog post, I want to pull out some key points here and address them from the real estate investor perspective.

Walking into the room

As you make it to the REIA meeting and walk in the room there are people everywhere talking to each other in little groups. Its really hard to walk up to a single person, let alone a small group of people and meet people. It’s much easier to go find the chairs and wait until the presentation part.

I highly recommend that every person going to a REIA meeting have a written plan of attack so they know exactly what they want to do and what they want to learn. Then when you walk in the room, grab your name tag, stake your best seat, and then to NETWORK.

GO TALK TO PEOPLE

Know why you are there.

The day before the event, sit down and figure out one or two things you want to get out of the event. That way you have a goal to accomplish – connect with 5 new people. Or a question to get answered – who can help me with A or how can I do B.

Some things to think about and write out.

(1)  Do you have a key point of real estate investing or a particular deal you need help with, write out what that is and one or two questions you want to get answers. When you arrive at the meeting, you are going to want to reach out to the leaders and ask them who the best person is to get the answers you seek.  It may be them or they may, in turn, introduce you to the best person in the room that they know who can help you. They will even provide introductions, so you don’t have to introduce yourself cold.

(2) Do you need something or service for your business, write down what it is you need and take a look at the event marketing to see if people will be there who could provide that needed product or service.  Seek them out.  I highly recommend taking your needs to the vendor room if there is one and talking to the vendors. They do 100’s of deals every year, more than anyone else in the room, granted in a support staff capacity, but they still do 100’s of deals. No matter what product or service you need, the vendors will either be able to provide it themselves or will have a trusted provider they use regularly. And the best part is, they are waiting to talk to you, so no reason to get cold feet.

(3) Then there are the people who are so brand new that they don’t know enough to have a question. These, I am sure are the folks that go sit down. They figure I don’t know anything, I don’t have a question, I don’t have anything to contribute so I am going to arrive an hour early and sit and stare at the wall or catch up on messages.

WRONG

If you don’t know enough to have anything to ask is the best time to meet people and ask questions. Then you can learn and grow in the industry. So some questions to ask people:

  • How long have you been coming to these events?
  • What do you do in real estate?
  • How did you get started?
  • How would you recommend I get started?
  • Tell me about your latest deal?
  • Tell me about your best / worst deal?
  • What book are you reading right now?
  • What podcasts do you like?
  • Are there other events like this you recommend.

You know what? People like to talk about themselves, so you could easily seek out people sitting in the chairs, drilling holes with their eyes on the front of the room, and say hi, I’m new here . . . and start on your list of questions. In about an hour you could meet at least 5 new people if not more.

Been There, Done That!

We also see a lot of folks coming to the meeting who have been coming to meetings for years but are still shy and scared to talk to anyone. Believe it or not, that’s me. I would much rather go sit down and read my messages that go talk to people. After I have said hi to 3 or 4 people, I’m done.

One of the best ways for this person (Me) to interact is to put on their Ambassador Cape (it might be invisible) and unofficially makes you a part of the welcoming committee. In your mind, your job on the welcoming committee is to seek out all the other scared people who look brand new and don’t know who to see or what to ask.

Go find these folks and ask them why they came and what they are looking for and direct them to the right person.

Many years ago at our REIA group, we had a vendor that every meeting came in, set up his vendor table with his banner, his flyers, his business cards. But rather than standing at his table and waiting for people to come to him, he put on his INVISIBLE AMBASSADOR CAPE. And he would then go work the room.  He looked for new people that he had never met before.

His standard opening line was something to the effect. “Hi (with a big smile and handshake), you look like this is your first meeting, what brought you here?”

Then he would listen to what they have to say, have a bit of small talk and he would find out what it was that they needed from the meeting – a question, a product or service, or totally new and not knowing what to ask.

He would then respond with “So you need to know “X” (repeating back whatever it was they needed to know), then you really need to meet “Y” (the person who could answer the question or solve the problem). He would then put his hand on their shoulder and say come with me. He would then take them to person Y and introduce them.

He never ever introduced himself or handed out a business card, too shy. The new person would then ask person “Y”, almost every time “Who was that”. They would then say, “oh he’s the money guy, you need to get his business card, so when you have a deal that needs funding, you call him.”  They would then have a small conversation, but eventually, they would go pick up a business card for the money guy.

For me, the leader at the REIA group, I try to seek out the new faces that are not talking to people, find out what brought them to my meeting and what it was they are looking for. I then try to either take them to meet the right person or get them to at least talk to the stranger sitting next to them.

So, the next time you get ready to go to a REIA Meeting or a Meetup, sit down and write out your agenda. What is it you want to learn? What are some questions you can ask people? And be sure to iron your invisible ambassador cape, you never know when you might need it.

Never been to a REIA meeting?  I would like to invite you to come out to a meeting of Mid-America Association of Real Estate Investors if you are in Kansas City.  We’ve been meeting the 2nd Tuesday of the month since 2004 and 1st Time Guests are free when they register.  Just click over to www.MAREI.org to find out when the next meeting is, where it is and to get your guest pass.

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