Everybody loves a referral, right? Some of us owe much of our business to the power of referrals – both from past clients and from other agents. Giving and getting referrals increases the longevity of your business and offers a great long-term payout. But how do you build a solid network of quality referrals and how do you hedge your bets and ensure that you’re passing your own clients on to quality agents who know what they’re doing—especially when you know that referral fee is on the line? Well, here are four ways to build that network and make sure it’s filled with quality people.
1. Follow up, follow up, follow up
If you aren’t already implementing a strong follow-up communications plan with past clients, then this is the place to start. Happy clients often want to refer you to friends, family and neighbors, but you have to keep your name in their minds long after the deal closed. Try setting up reminders to follow up, either using a calendar or a CRM tool. Ask how it’s going shortly after the transaction, as well as on the anniversary of the sale. Try sharing local market information as well, as homeowners are often interested in what’s going on in their neighborhood. Holidays also provide a great excuse to connect with an e-mail or card.
2. Join a National Referral Network
Do you have a solid pool of real estate connections that you can access when helping a client moving to another area? Sometimes it’s hard to know if you’re referring someone to a high-quality agent who will follow through on a referral fee, and if the referrals you’re getting from other agents are real leads. I’m a member of the Council of Residential Specialists, a professional development, education and networking organization, and this referral network is a great place to make connections. It’s one of my go-to referral networks. I know the agents that belong to CRS realize the mark of professionalism that the CRS education and training gets them and that's really why I seek them out. They've been through the trenches with me. CRS also offers free access to other programs that offer qualified leads. So make sure whatever referral network or organization you join is really worth your while.
3. Host a Community Event
One of the more unique ways agents are out building their network is by hosting a public event that offers real value to the community. Some brokerages have turned their main street offices into art galleries, displaying local artists at gallery nights once or twice a month. I offer to host a housewarming party for my new clients. It takes the hosting pressure off them, gives me a place where I can shine, they get to meet new neighbors, and I get to network with their friends. These kind of events foster a sense of community and offer a lot of face time with potential clients.
4. Attend Education Classes Out of Town
I love to continue my education and grow as an agent (plus, you gotta fulfill those CE credits). So why not attend a class out of town, or even out of state, so you can meet other agents while learning valuable business skills? Pay attention to where people are moving from in your community and if there’s one place that stands out, take your classes there and network with the other agents attending the class. This will make you stand out from your peers by putting a face with a name when they need to refer. CRS hosts classes across the country, and they are generally known as the best classes with the best instructors in the country. So, be sure to look for a CRS class in your local area or in a new area so that you can increase your referral base with other quality agents!
Debbie Reynolds, a broker with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services PenFed Realty in Clarksville, Tennessee. She has been a CRS since 1999 has 36 years of experience listing and selling real estate (and loving it).