Real estate professionals need to network. Aside from marketing to our sphere, networking is the biggest source of leads for our business.
Oftentimes, vendors will host networking events and invite real estate professionals. Many times, these are great ways to meet and greet other professionals that you may have reason to work with in the future as they are often attended by realtors, attorneys, inspectors, appraisers, mortgage brokers, title agents, stagers, photographers, home improvement specialists, environmental specialists, and a host of other specialized businesses that we need in our day to day job.
We attended a fantastic networking event last night which had more than 100 people in attendance and represented dozens of professional fields. We've also attended poorly organized networking events in the past.
There are some factors that an organizer can take into consideration to foster success of the networking event.
- Hold your networking in a space that is large enough for everyone to spread out, mingle, and sit down and chat. Lots of small intimate tables works better than a large table.
- Invite everyone you come in contact with in the course of your business. Be sure to include realtors, attorneys, inspectors, appraisers, mortgage brokers, title agents, stagers, home improvement specialists, environmental specialists, and pest control companies. Many peripheral services would welcome an opportunity to meet real estate professionals even if it's not their primary audience. Be sure to include printers, business coaches, photographers, estate attorneys, contractors, and so on.
- Co-sponsor the event with a related non-competing business. For example, the function that we attended last night was co-sponsored by a real estate law firm and a title company.
- When people walk in the door, be sure at least 2 people are there to greet them and get them settled. You'll need two people so that a second person behind them doesn't get ignored.
- Provide markers and name tags. Even though many real estate professionals wear name tags, it's easier if there's some uniformity in name tags. I've seen events where first and last names with company name were required and other events where it was first name only.
- Have everyone give you a business card in exchange for a coupon for a free drink.
- Offer some mingling incentive. We attended a networking function where everyone was given a playing card. Your job was to find another person with the same number on the card - if you had a 4, you had to find another person with a 4, regardless of suit. Then, the two of you could bring your cards back to the registration table to earn another coupon for a free drink. Great incentive to go around meeting people.
- Offer finger food. Nothing that requires cutlery.
- Follow up aftet the event. You have everyone's business card - be sure to call them and thank them for attending. Reinforce the relationship you've begun.
Most of all, remember that networking is fun. Make sure that you reap the rewards of all of your organizational effort. Meet, greet, and get to know the people you've helped bring together!
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