I was an estate agent from 1988 through to 2007 and, since then, have attended over 1000 business networking events around the UK, as well as written a couple of books on the subject.
Over in the Facebook group I run, The Networking Retreat, I recently asked which businesses are under represented at the networking events and meetings my members go to. The answer really surprised me.
Several of the respondents said that they had never seen an estate agent at a networking event. I would have thought that any agent who applied themselves to networking would absolutely clean up locally.
The major benefit to estate agents of regularly attending networking events in their local town is the opportunity to meet the other businesses, trades and professions, all of whom have their own clients, many of whom are local homeowners.
The often used expression in business networking is Meet – Like – Know – Trust, and I believe this could be incredible useful for any estate agent.
If, as an agent you turn up for a valuation or market appraisal (it’s been a while, I don’t know what the correct description is these days) and you are meeting the sellers for the first time, you have that hour to build up their trust. If you arrive having already met them at a networking event. or having been referred by someone they trust who you met at a networking event, you already have a huge competitive advantage.
Let’s say Mrs Seller runs a business and mentions to her accountant that they are thinking of moving. If the accountants says “I know a really great local estate agent, here are his details”, you are going in with a huge amount more immediate trust than any of the competitors. Choose the guy we found on RightMove, or the guy our trusted adviser suggest we use? It may not win you the business, but it gives you a head start.
Here is how I would suggest any estate agent new to networking approaches it:
- Visit a few local networking events to find the ones which suit you and which you can attend regularly.
- Attend regularly – being there at the right time is vital particularly in the estate agency business as you need to be front of mind when someone thinks about selling their house, or comes across one of their contacts who is thinking about selling their house. Turning up occasionally isn’t enough, being there regularly will help you to build the relationships so that people trust you enough to refer you.
- Be generous with your referrals to others in the group. Wherever possible look for referrals for others. Be the first to bring value to each relationship, people will want to reciprocate.
- If the networking group has a website, make sure you get your details and your website link up there with appropriate text.
- If it’s your ‘thing’, offer to do the speaker slot at the event. “10 things you should do to make your house more saleable”, or “how to add value to your home, quickly”. That sort of presentation will be popular.
- And be the person who makes the effort to keep in touch.
Being in the right place at the right time is a valuable part of any estate agents marketing. Being there when someone spots a house they want to buy, or finds out about their job move or whatever else gets people thinking about selling their home, is something which can be engineered through sensible marketing. And networking locally, in my opinion, would be a valuable part of that marketing.
Stefan Thomas is the author of Business Networking for Dummies and Instant Networking, both of which are available on Amazon.