Speed Networking for Realtors

Real Estate Agent with Jefferson Properties 0225213983

Recently I challenged myself to host a networking event in my area.  It would be a great way to get myself out in the community while also connecting local professionals.  Good idea, right?  The devil is in the details: How was I going to set it up?  Whom would I invite?  Where would I hold the event? Hmmm. Imagine me tapping my fingers and staring out the window.  I needed inspiration.

Because all those logistical questions were dry and not getting my creative juices flowing, I got busy looking for an angle or theme for my event.  You know, the fun part.  A quick search on Pinterest for "networking" produced results for speed dating.  Could I apply the speed dating concept to a professional networking event?  I didn't know, but I liked the challenge.

I jotted a list of friends, vendors, local businesses and anybody I knew who worked by referral.  I examined the parts of town where they live and work and selected an eatery that was central to all.  A quick visit with the owner of the restaurant and I walked away with a date, time, and menu.  The owner didn't understand what speed dating was, but he agreed to provide delicious Italian food and our own room for the event. Perfect. (Note: We negotiated a bit.  He wouldn't charge me a room fee if I'd host my event on a slow night...hence the selected date and time).

















Next step was a "Save the Date" e-mail followed a few days later with a printed invitation.  I made my invitation in the style of a ticket, which was used as a drink ticket for the bar on the night of the event.  I wanted it in a "chalkboard look" style.  A quick search on Etsy and I found a designer who sent me a PDF for $12 and I printed all the copies I needed.  So far, so good.

I've planned a lot of parties and reunions in my day, so I knew that if I wanted to have 25 people, I needed to invite 75.  After the first Save the Date email I had 2 responses.  After the printed invitations were mailed I got about 8 more confirmed guests. Fast forward to Monday, two days before the event, which was my day to call and confirm RSVPs for all the folks I hadn't heard from.  By the end of the day I had 30 confirmed and 8 maybes.  A lot of talking, good results.

On a whim, I stopped by some local shops and asked for door prize donations.  They were incredibly generous.   Score!  Everyone loves swag.  I also asked some of the folk planning to attend if they wanted to promote their business with free stuff.  Some jumped at the opportunity.

The day of the event it poured rain.  That's never good for a social event.  As expected, I received 8 "I can't make it" or "my kid is sick" last minute cancellations (life happens...). We had a few no-shows, too. However, we ended up with a solid group of 20+ business owners and vendors to meet and greet and repeat!  They were incredibly open to the concept and willing to try my networking experiment.  

I asked a friend and fellow agent to be my "door man" and to collect the $10/per person for attending. He  is super friendly and funny which made a great first impression at the door.  I also put him in charge of "whistle blowing" and timing for the speed dating.




















After about 20 minutes of drinks and appetizers, we welcomed everyone and explained how our speed networking was going to work.   Each "couple" had two minutes to introduce themselves and their industry.  I had printed questions in the cups on the table, so each "couple" had to pull one question and discuss it.  Questions all related to their professional lives, things like: What do you like about your job? What is the biggest challenge in your business?  What's the biggest change to your industry over the past few years?  After two minutes (TOTAL) we blew the whistle and each person moved to the right (on one side of the table, the folks on the other side of the table stayed put).


















I think 2 minutes was just right because people didn't run out of things to say, and sought each other out afterwards if they wanted to have a follow up conversation.

Finally it was time for the swag, and we pulled business cards out of a fish bowl for a variety of prizes. We had rounds of golf at a country club, $50 spa certificates, $50 restaurant certificates, adult drawing lessons for an art studio, gift items from a local shop, and lots more.  Some of the folks in attendance donated door prizes in conjunction with their company, so don't forget to offer that opportunity to those you invite who own their own businesses with products or services that make for good prizes.



















After the door prizes, some folks hung out to mingle and others took off to be home for dinner with their families.  I tried to keep the event from 5:15-6:15 so folks could stop by on their way home from work. Next time I think I'll try a 7:00-8:00 time-frame to get a cross section of people who couldn't attend this time.  

After I got home from the mixer, I sent a quick e-mail out with the names/industry and e-mail addresses of everyone in attendance (I also included web links to the great businesses that donated door prizes).  I encouraged everyone to refer to the professionals they met at the mixer (a far cry from the pressure of a BNI group).  This was a low key way for all of us to get our businesses on the radar with other business professionals, and walk away with a handy resource list for future referrals.  I'll be curious to see if this will bring me direct real estate referrals, but at the end of the day it was a fun evening and I enjoyed making new connections and learning about the talented people in my community.  My only regret was that I didn't get to particiapte in the actual speed networking because I was facilitating it.  Had I participated it would have been an odd number of people.  Not sure if that was a lost opportunity or being a good host.  I knew most of the people there already, so I tried to concentrate on running things smoothly.  

What are some of the more creative things you've tried for marketing and networking?  What gave you the best results and ROI?











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Comments (61)

Jenn Hart
Jefferson Properties - Richmond, VA
Richmond, VA, REALTOR®, 804-317-7997

As far as a return on investment, I'll keep you posted Evelyn Kennedy and Bernadette A. James, but at the end of the day it was a ton of fun (as noted by Bill ReddingtonJeanne DufortMarte Cliff).  

Oct 21, 2014 11:11 PM
Jenn Hart
Jefferson Properties - Richmond, VA
Richmond, VA, REALTOR®, 804-317-7997

Lyn Sims and Sharon Parisi  also commented about the gifts, and I must say that everyone loves swag, so go for the door prizes if you can!

And if you try one, as Dana Basiliere mentioned, don't drag it out and keep it short and sweet.       

Hey....WHAT'S A BEEPER? John DL Arendsen.  Kidding.  Loved your comment and it offered quite the perspective on how technology has changed networking.  I think you just found your next blog post idea!

Oct 21, 2014 11:12 PM
Jenn Hart
Jefferson Properties - Richmond, VA
Richmond, VA, REALTOR®, 804-317-7997

 Thanks for attending and participating in my event Whitney Watson.  Your e-mail on the day of the event offering your support and checking in made my day, and YES, this is where former teachers shine.  Let us organize people and we can whip up an event in no time flat! Go Hoos.

Thanks for all of you who read and commented and wished me well: Jerry Motley, and Troy Erickson.  I love being part of your community here on AR. 

Oct 21, 2014 11:13 PM
Jenn Hart
Jefferson Properties - Richmond, VA
Richmond, VA, REALTOR®, 804-317-7997

I'm so glad Debbie Malone sent you over: Rebecca Gaujot, the GO TO REALTOR , Bob Crane Sheila Anderson and Wayne Johnson.  Thanks for clicking over and saying hi.  

Oct 21, 2014 11:21 PM
Jenn Hart
Jefferson Properties - Richmond, VA
Richmond, VA, REALTOR®, 804-317-7997

Good luck with your event, Sharon Paxson.  I know it will be great!

I love that you picked up on my theme Michele Connors.  You get me :-)

Thanks for your comment, John Meussner.  I actually set it up this way so that shy folks wouldn't feel awkward.  I think they preferred it this way because it took the pressure off of them to make small talk.

Oct 21, 2014 11:23 PM
Karen Fiddler, Broker/Owner
Karen Parsons-Fiddler, Broker 949-510-2395 - Mission Viejo, CA
Orange County & Lake Arrowhead, CA (949)510-2395

To answer your question, I'm not good at networking really. But would like to be. Looks like you had a great event, very fall looking. 

Oct 22, 2014 02:57 AM
Judy LeMarr

What a great concept and all the details.
Thanks, Jenn.

Oct 22, 2014 09:35 AM
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area

Great idea!  A lot of work --I hope it pays off for you and the attendees

Oct 23, 2014 02:13 AM
Steven Murray, Broker, SRES® IRES SRS Toronto Real Estate Board
Right At Home Realty Inc. Brokerage - Oshawa, ON
Your Durham Region Real Estate Broker

Sounds like a neat idea and it went well. Good for you.

Oct 23, 2014 06:16 AM
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA

I never was to speed networking events. I think, I'll forget all about everyone before the end of such event...:) I prefer meeting few people during event, but take time to know them and keep in touch after the event.

Oct 23, 2014 05:34 PM
Roy Kelley
Retired - Gaithersburg, MD

Thanks for sharing your successful networking event. Your ideas should be copied by many real estate professionals.

Oct 24, 2014 12:42 AM
Roy Kelley
Retired - Gaithersburg, MD

I took the extra moments to 'like' the comments on your blog to offer some support and a few points for those bloggers. I hope you will do the same when you visit my blogs.

Oct 24, 2014 12:44 AM
Jenn Hart
Jefferson Properties - Richmond, VA
Richmond, VA, REALTOR®, 804-317-7997

Inna Ivchenko ....You make a good point.  Speed networking isn't for everyone.  I let folks know what to expect in advance so they could opt not to come if it wasn't their cup of tea.

Oct 24, 2014 04:02 AM
John DL Arendsen
CREST "BACKYARD' HOMES, ON THE LEVEL General & Manufactured Home Contractor, TAG Real Estate Sales & Investments - Leucadia, CA
Crest Backyard Homes "ADU" dealer & RE Developer

Jenn Hart Been there and done that Jenn. Check it out: Hi Tech Hi Touch

Oct 26, 2014 10:33 AM
Alyse "Aly" Sands
AGORA Realty - Nashville, TN
It's Good To Be Home

There used to be a company in Nashville that did speed dating and speed networking. This has been replaced by numerous networking meetup events, one group I've organized since 2008. We get happy hour prices, no cost attendance and groups of people mingling and passing cards. We get anywhere from 10 to 100 if we combine groups. I get to participate and I don't have to spend too much time setting up. I hope you benefit with business from the efforts you put into this endeavor. At the least it looks like it was fun.

Oct 27, 2014 01:19 AM
Jan Green - Scottsdale, AZ
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Very cool event!  I love your idea and "pairing" it after a speed dating type of event.  How cool!  I co-founded a networking group and would love to instill something like this into a meeting. You've got me thinking!

Oct 27, 2014 12:01 PM
Charlie Dresen
The Group, Inc - Steamboat Springs, CO
Steamboat Springs, CO e-Pro

Looks like a good event, Jenn Hart. You definitely did your homework. It may take some time, but I hope it pays off for you.   

Nov 01, 2014 12:37 AM
Keller Williams Select Realtors-Buy a home in Washington DC. Sell a home in Washington DC - Bowie, MD
I don't make promises.I deliver results.SOLD HOMES

I acutally like your Spend Networking. I have never attended a networking event. But this is something that I really have to do more of next year. Hope you leads lead to more real estate business for you.

Nov 19, 2014 10:16 AM
Winston Heverly
Coldwell Banker Access Realty - South Macon, GA

I think going back and reading some of Active Rains best Archives  likes this one should be shared again.

Mar 26, 2015 12:16 PM
Rene Fabre
ARFCO Media - Renton, WA
Practicing Philosophical Eclectic of the Arts

I took Winston Heverly 's advice and read this post. I missed it the first go around Jenn Hart . This is a great blueprint for a fun event. I especially like the idea of mixing things up by having different kinds of businesses represented.

Jul 06, 2015 03:04 AM