How I Use My Referral List and How to Get on It!
I suspect most of us enjoying giving and receiving referrals in our business. I certainly do.
I’ve spent a fair amount of time over the years developing my referral list, tracked in my CRS, so that I can share referrals around the country when the need arises.
I like having an up-to-date referral list since I never know when I will need it for a friend or family member, a past client, or a current client moving out of the area.
It’s also nice to have this referral list in case someone calls and asks if I have a recommendation for an agent they could refer a client to. I like being able to help others with these suggestions, and have received a number of referrals myself this way – I had one just last November for buyers of an ocean-view second home via a good CRS friend.
So how do I decide who to refer a buyer or seller to?
First and foremost I prefer to refer to someone I personally know, whenever possible. I might not have met them face to face, although that’s best, but I like to know and respect them well enough to trust they will do a great job for my referral. The good thing is that my list of people I know is pretty extensive. Bottom line, I want to feel comfortable the client will come first and be well taken care of, no matter what the needs.
There’s something about meeting someone, shaking their hand, looking them in the eye, and having a few minutes to get to know them that takes an online relationship to another level. And I’ve met many great agents for the first time in person rather than online.
But for those I haven’t met in person, we may have talked on the phone, or emailed a few times, and I have no doubt checked out your website, connected with you on social media, and have been following your blog here on AR or elsewhere! I know you, trust you and like you.
I’ve been a Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) since late 2005, and have gotten to know a ton of people personally around the country from my involvement at the regional, state, and national levels, as well as from attending the annual CR Sellabration for the last 10 years (I meet great people that way but also get to know those who are presenting).
This also includes my CRS Mastermind group; each of them are worthy of referrals, and likely would know others, too, if needed.
I also know lots of agents, and other real estate professionals, from ActiveRain, of course (and a good number of CRSs I know are bloggers here, too). Not only have I gotten to know them well over the years from following their blogs, and respect and trust them, but I’ve also had the great fortune to meet many of them in person at meetups, RainCamps, REBarCamps, NAR meetings, and just hooking up here and there when traveling.
Because of my network on AR and in CRS, it would be unusual to not know someone to refer a client, friend, family member or neighbor to; I find I rarely have to seek out someone blindly.
But when faced with that situation, I first reach out to people I know and trust to see if they have ideas for me based on the location and the needs of the party being referred, which will include friends on AR and my CRS friends and connections. That’s done by phone calls typically, but may be complemented by reaching out on the CRS Facebook page or directly on AR.
Once I have a name, perhaps 2, I do more research online to learn more (websites, social media), as well as making a call to those individuals to do a bit of Q and A. I want to learn more about where they work, their experience, their style and communication, and other things I feel may be important for a good fit with the client. And I look for someone who is enthusiastic about getting the referral.
A prospecitve referral's response to the communication is a part of the test, too, however. If I email and call (I do both) and do not get a response back within 24 hours or less I move on. Thankfully that’s unusual, but it has happened.
So what do I look at to grow my referral list from AR, and when checking out people I don’t know?
1. Good and varied content about what you know and do in the real estate arena – not just about the purchase and sale process but your knowledge of the communities in your service area and local market conditions.
2. Knowledge about real estate issues and practices in your state and local area - what buyers and sellers should know about, ways you demonstrate knowledge and expertise, how you solve problems, the types of issues you have dealt with, and your ethics and professionalism!
3. Your personality! We all know we can learn a lot about people from how they act online – their interests, their personal lives (just some of it, please!) and more, in essence transparency, authenticity, and who you are in real life.
4. Treating others nicely – I think the way you treat others online provides a pretty good feel for the way you probably treat people in real life. That’s doesn’t mean you can’t have differing opinions. But those first impressions can make quite an impact! If you are rude, abrasive, sexist, racist, or anything along those lines, the only list you might get on is a blacklist.
Lastly, I track all my outbound and inbound referrals carefully in a spreadsheet – sometime things move along quickly, sometimes they don’t. It’s helpful to know where referrals are going, and coming from, over time and what the outcomes were.
I take passing along a referral very seriously. It’s not just picking a name, sharing the contact information, then sitting and waiting for the referral check (hopefully).
Or just emailing someone I don't know with a lead and hoping it will work out.
My reputation is on the line when I tell someone I will find them a great referral to work with. I truly want them to have a great experience while on the path to achieving their real estate goals - the same as I would want to provide - so it takes time and a lot of thought to make sure the referral is a good one, although it's much easier when I know someone.
With the people I know the upfront work is done! I like, trust, and respect them, and it’s just a matter of making sure (as best one can) the match is right and the referral really can help the client, and I’m pleased to do so.