Best Way To Network & Prospect? So Simple Even A 4-Year-Old Can Do It.

Real Estate Broker/Owner with North Shore Suburbs & Chicago Real Estate

Is It Possible To Teach Face-To-Face Communications?

Face-To-Face CommunicationsRecently, a colleague mentioned he is encouraging his teenage children to enhance their communication skills.  Specifically, he is coaching them on issues such as how to shake hands, maintain eye contact, speak directly, and otherwise relate in a more personalized manner.  Was I shocked to hear this?  Not really.  To a certain extent, the proliferation of advanced technologies and social media have served to repress our custom of face-to-face communications on multiple levels. That said, can 'people skills' be taught?  Absolutely.  However, in my opinion, implementing interpersonal skills falls under the category of 'experiential learning.'  In other words, proficiency is earned through action – in real time.  Allow me to explain.

Might You Be Interested In Building A Relationship With Me?

When I was 4-years-old, my family and I moved to a small suburb outside of Chicago, where we lived in a modest home on a partially, undeveloped street.  At that time, there were very few neighbors and therefore, a scarce number of children on our block.  Determined not to let a shortage of kids discourage me, I regularly ventured off in search of potential playmates.  Up one block – then down the next – I would knock on doors as I practiced a prepared speech in my head.  When someone answered the door, I boldly stated in my 4-year-old voice: “Hi, my name is Carie.  Do you have anyone my age that I can play with?”  (Keep in mind  – this was the 60s. This was the suburbs.  And, like other young children of that era, I was fearless and perfectly safe.)  Eventually, my mother would receive a phone call informing her of my whereabouts and to let her know I was okay.  More importantly, though, I became increasingly comfortable introducing myself and meeting new people this way.

How About Some Girl Scout Cookies?  Everyone Needs Girl Scout Cookies!

Girl Scout CookiesSeveral years later, I became a Girl Scout and each year, I walked up one block – then down the next – peddling Girl Scout Cookies.  Equipped with an arsenal of cookie boxes, I dilligently approached as many potential customers as possible – while at the same time tirelessly trying to unload enough cookies to meet my goals.  In retrospect, the practical business development and relationship building experience I garnered during this time was invaluable.  And, just think.  All that priceless, real-time training earned from selling cookies costing a measly 50 cents per box.

What's So Great About Talking Anyway?!

It's true.  We all have days when we don't feel like talking very much.  Although, in my particular case, friends and family would be hard pressed to support this notion (according to my mom, I started speaking in complete sentences when I was 18-months-old and haven't stopped since.)  But seriously, some days we just feel like emailing or texting or sitting behind a computer – in our pajamas.  Anything other than meeting people on a one-to-one basis!  Of course, the Internet has made connecting simpler as 'door-to-door' has become a thing of the past. Yet, I believe the fundamental skills many of us learned years ago are equally as relevant (if not more so) when it comes to marketing ourselves.

So What If You Didn't Start Networking And Prospecting When You Were 4-Years-Old? 

I'm reminded of an old joke I heard years ago.  A lost tourist in New York City stops to ask a local businessman for directions:  "Pardon me, Sir.  Can you please tell me how to get to Carnegie Hall?"  The businessman replies:  "Practice!  Practice! Practice!"  Competence is accomplished through repetition.  Tasks get easier the more frequently we practice them.  Remember, we're all works in progress and we never stop learning.  Personally, I will make room for self-improvement forever.  Sure, our goals change.  Our world changes.  And, we all do our best to adapt.  But, some things never change.  After all, you can't learn to make eye contact from a text message.

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Comments (68)

Carie Shapiro
North Shore Suburbs & Chicago Real Estate - Evanston, IL

Claude:  Thanks, and I agree ... nothing beats it!

Ann:  I know what you mean.  I worked as a waitress at a local ice cream parlor when I was 14.  Those early work experiences really leave an impact, don't they?

Ymeki:  Thanks!  Yes, many of us have been building up 'door knocking' experiences for years :)

John:  That had to be tough as a kid ... moving so often and having to make new friends all the time.  Sounds like you were great at meeting people too :)

Sharon:  Thank you!  And, yes ... I remember those days when we would go outside to play and not come home until dark.  Heck, I could keep myself entertained with a Super Ball and 10 jacks all afternoon back then :)

Jul 17, 2013 12:07 PM
Carie Shapiro
North Shore Suburbs & Chicago Real Estate - Evanston, IL

Travis:  You're welcome.  Those are great memories, aren't they?

Michael:  Thanks.  And, yes ... technology has its drawbacks!

Nancy:  It is so important!  And, I think you may be right about your friend too.

Hella:  You speak 3 languages ... I'm envious :)  That's so cool!

Karen:  Thanks!  And, I agree ... in many ways, I'm a big proponent of 'back to basics.'  Works for me :)


Jul 17, 2013 12:12 PM
Rebecca Gaujot, Realtor®
Lewisburg, WV
Lewisburg WV, the go to agent for all real estate

Eye contact is very important...someone told me once when I was a teenager that looking someone in the eyes when talking to them makes the person listen and answer  your question.

Jul 17, 2013 12:55 PM
Amanda S. Davidson
Amanda Davidson Real Estate Group Brokered By eXp Realty - Alexandria, VA
Alexandria Virginia Homes For Sale

Carie, I agree that eye contact is very important. I grew up on a small farm with hardly any neighbors. Horse shows were my chance to meet people and I did just that. Anyone that would listen I'd talk to :) Guess I started training for real estate early!

Jul 17, 2013 11:23 PM
Bob Miller
Keller Williams Cornerstone Realty - Ocala, FL
The Ocala Dream Team

Great post Carie!  Wish we had read it back when we were 4 years old!  lol

Jul 18, 2013 03:07 AM
Andrea HoffDomin
Florida Dream Homes Realty - Fort Lauderdale, FL
- in Real Estate always on your side!

Very good post. I just realized how necessary it is to communicate. I was at my education as a CERT - community emergency response team - and we had to train a rescue mission. You have to work as a team and talk to each other or the rescue of a person who relies on this team effort will not survive.

But I am guilty of not being always to constant talker but at least I try to change and do my best.

Jul 18, 2013 12:00 PM
Wayne Johnson
Coldwell Banker D'Ann Harper REALTORS® - San Antonio, TX
San Antonio REALTOR, San Antonio Homes For Sale

Carrie-A Business Development professional at four years old. That makes me feel like a real slacker.

Jul 18, 2013 03:33 PM
Wayne Zuhl
Remax First Realty II - Cranford, NJ
The Last Name You'll Ever Need in Real Estate

Good morning Carie - I am grinning like a fool picturing a 4 year old you walking up to neighbors introducing yourself! How adorable! Some people have natural networking talent and others need to work at it - it's clear it's natural for you :)

Jul 18, 2013 11:43 PM
Women of Westchester Working Together
Women of Westchester Working Together - West Harrison, NY
Women helping Women get ahead

i totally can relate to the feeling most days to just email and text and stay work in my pj's some days. but must also totally concur that it is getting out there and interacting face to face, or by phone actual conversing that is the best way to network. it opens up so many doors and topics of conversation, or direction for leads, etc. no matter what your industrty. great blog. : )  Lisa Swartz, CMP

Jul 19, 2013 01:22 AM
Jan Green - Scottsdale, AZ
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

What a great lesson for todays kids!  Selling girl scout cookies ends up being a lesson in public speaking.  What a kick!  Great post!

Jul 19, 2013 03:21 AM
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH@Properties - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

What a terrific post!  I'm sort of amazed at what the emphasis on computer use has done for quashing social skills.  I think your colleague is smart to teach his children well.

Jul 19, 2013 07:08 AM
Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®
RE/MAX Platinum - Waukesha, WI
Giving Back With Each Home Sold!

I saw your post in Patricias weekly wrap up...Great job!  I can see why she included it!  Thanks for sharing....

Jul 21, 2013 01:02 AM
Brad MacKenzie
Brad MacKenzie - Duxbury, MA
Turning Houses into Homes on the South Shore

In your case, I think the way you would get to Carnegie Hall would be to walk up to the backstage door and ask if you could come in.

Jul 21, 2013 02:33 AM
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH@Properties - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Hey, Carie!  I included this post in today’s  Last Week’s Favorites.  Please drop by and check it out, and have a great week!

Jul 21, 2013 02:52 AM
Sandy Padula & Norm Padula, JD, GRI
HomeSmart Realty West & Florida Realty Investments - , CA
Presence, Persistence & Perseverance
Carie, wow! .50 cents for a box of Girl Scout cookies. I could afford to get fat with those prices. OH! Getting back to the subject; you are spot on regarding the strength of face-to-face contacts over emails.
Jul 21, 2013 06:58 AM
Helen and Larry Prier- Re-Max Gateway - Residential Real Estate
RE-MAX Gateway- Residential Real Estate Sales - Anacortes, WA
Anacortes & surrounding Skagit & Island Counties

hey carie, What an inpiring blog. It makes me want to get out there and knock on a few doors. I think that selling Girl Scout cookies or wanting friends to play with is a bit easier than trying to get Real estate business but worth a try.

Jul 21, 2013 11:16 AM
Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED
RETIRED / State License is Inactive - Portland, OR

WOW this is sure a hit!  I was just talking to a friend about the technology reared children.  They do not know how to communicate effectively.  Pity.  Good read Carie!

Jul 21, 2013 03:02 PM
Joanna Cohlan
Fresh Eyes For Your Home - Chappaqua, NY
Designing, Decorating & Staging Westchester Homes

Great post Carie and believe me, nothing gets better if you don't practice-even those who have innate abilities need to polish it up!  Love how you prospected for some friends in Chicago!  Just like Barak Obama!

Jul 21, 2013 11:00 PM
Kate Elim
Dockside Realty - Spotsylvania, VA
Realtor 540-226-1964, Selling Homes & Land a

Hi Carie...So much depends on the type of personality one is. You are evidently outgoing. My three children, their dad and I are all outgoing. People skills came more easily I believe because of an interest in meeting and getting to know others. It is harder for some others but can be equally important.


Jul 27, 2013 02:07 PM
Charles Stallions Real Estate Services
Charles Stallions Real Estate Services Inc - Gulf Breeze, FL
Buyers Agent 800-309-3414 Pace and Gulf Breeze,Fl.

Nice inspiring post Carie and thanks for the inspiration of course as a four year once I know no boundries nor limits

Aug 01, 2013 12:55 PM