Networking Options for Realtors

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Networking is the foundation of a successful career in real estate. Professional industries rely on networking for everything from employment to professional development opportunities. Networking is even more important in real estate. According to long-time REALTOR® and real estate agent  coach Devin Doherty, “80% of deals come in because somebody knows someone. It’s a referral-based business.” 

The ability of REALTORS® to network can inform drastic career moves. Unmet networking expectations can even lead some REALTORS® to leave their brokerage in search of a more supportive team. 

Networking means different things to different types of agents. Doherty identified 4 core categories of real estate agents:

  1. Prospecting agents
  2. Lead conversion agents
  3. Marketing agents
  4. Networking agents

Each type of agent will approach networking differently. Strategies vary based on their particular goals and their natural strengths. The crucial factor is to figure out which networking strategies work best for each REALTOR®. We’ve brought together some central approaches new agents can use to build their networks.

Real Estate Networking Groups and Social Media

The primary approach to networking in real estate is through networking groups and these groups give REALTORS® access to a range of benefits. Access to information and resources about local markets and trends, additional training resources, and evaluating potential brokerages to join are common benefits. These groups can also be instrumental in scouting new avenues for referrals and leads. 

There are some common groups worth seeking out when entering a new real estate market. Devin Doherty advised targeting both realty-specific and broader community groups.

For instance, Doherty recommended joining organizations like BNI. This group specializes as a community for referral generation. There are also local REALTOR® boards or associations that can provide industry-specific support. 

Connecting to Networking Groups Online

A key component of connecting with a wide range of groups is through social media. Social media can also play a direct role in lead generation through tools like paid ads.

There are free, less direct methods as well. For instance, many in-person groups also have a presence on social media. Joining or connecting to these groups online first can be an easy entry point to learn about other local groups. It can also make initial introductions easier. 

Developing an online network on social media can be as simple as connecting with someone else in the community. This is true both for potential leads or professional contacts. LinkedIn can serve this role particularly well. It hits the balance by creating one-on-one visibility with the other person when sending the connection request.

LinkedIn is also an excellent choice if new REALTORS® worry about being intrusive. LinkedIn can provide visibility without being too invasive in other people’s more “personal” social media, like Instagram or Facebook. 

Depending on each REALTOR®’s own comfort level, reaching out on these other platforms can be viable options as well. On more social platforms, the focus isn’t on posting content, according to Doherty. Instead, “it’s about the collection of names, and getting them into a CRM or spreadsheet.” REALTORS® can then use this information as a starting point for contact development and lead generation in the area. 

Attending Events

Attending events is a central method REALTORS® use to build out their networks. There are a range of different event types to choose from, depending on the networking goals at hand.

Events can be divided into industry events and community events. REALTORS ® should aim to attend both types to serve both their professional and client networks.

 Community Events

Much like joining community groups, local community events are an avenue for creating vertical relationships outside of the real estate space itself. The goal of attending these events are twofold. First, REALTORS® want to learn what other businesses are most active in the community and would make the best partnerships. Once they have a read of the community, agents can track and develop these relationships. 

REALTORS® also want to get their name and brand visibility in the community. After all, people can’t refer buyers or sellers to a REALTOR® if they don’t know that the agent exists. This is particularly impactful for commercial REALTORS® who may work with the businesses or sponsors of these events. These events will likely be cheap or free, particularly if the event involves some sort of volunteering or community get together. 

Realty-Specific Events

Real estate networking events focus less on lead generation and more on professional development. Industry events are opportunities to learn from experienced real estate pros with decades of experience and insights.

They are also prime chances for tracking emerging trends in the market, in real estate tactics, or in technology and processes. Of course, agents should also use real estate networking events to establish business connections with other REALTORS® and organizations. 

Virtual Events

In a digital-first world, agents can even hold home tours and open houses virtually. Like virtual tours, virtual networking events present unique opportunities and challenges worth considering. There are opportunities to learn from, and virtually meet, professionals that would have been geographically difficult to access before. These events will also likely be much cheaper than in-person events. 

However, virtual events won’t give the flexibility to move into and out of various conversations and introductions. The face-to-face aspect will also be lacking. Even then, the lower costs associated with virtual events may make them an attractive option for new REALTORS®. Virtual events can be excellent for agents who lack financial support but have more time to commit. 

Evaluating Real Estate Networking Events

One factor worth considering for industry events is the price. In-person events come with many bells and whistles, but come with heftier price tags than local or virtual events. When evaluating which real estate networking events to attend, consider these factors:

  • Who’s the speaker? Networking events will have a keynote speaker. However, new REALTORS® are unlikely to get face-to-face time with the speaker.  Instead, ask what insights or experiences the speaker has that will be valuable to hear about and learn from in a seminar setting.  

  • What market segment does the event cater to? Luxury real estate events sound great, but REALTORS® should consider whether that focus aligns with their local real estate market. 

  • What do you want out of the event? Is the primary goal to meet as many people as possible, to learn new techniques or practices, or to seek out leaders who may be able to serve as mentors? 

Create a Website and Community Page

Developing an online presence is a crucial part of 21st Century networking for REALTORS®. The best way new REALTORS® can enable a long-term online networking strategy is to create their own website and community page. The website will serve both as a central platform for hosting listings and as a source of community knowledge, events, and area facts. 

Creating an independent website with community pages helps develop REALTORS®’ identity and visibility. It also helps new agents become resident experts in the area on top of being residential (or commercial) REALTORS®.

This passive perception of agents can drive both leads and other professionals to them. Creating inbound interest reduces the burden on new agents to take the initiative with handling all outreach. 

Join Local Organizations

There is great value in joining groups beyond realty networking groups. New REALTORS® should use these groups to expand their vertical network into other real estate-adjacent areas. 

This network expansion can directly or indirectly benefit an agent’s business. For starters, these individuals or businesses may decide to list or buy through an agent based on these connections. Additionally, they can be excellent referral sources.

In particular, organizations like attorneys’ offices, construction companies, or contractors may see earlier signals of buyers or sellers going on the market. Having a relationship with these businesses can give favored REALTORS® a head start on attracting those leads.  

There are a wide range of local organizations that can serve this purpose. The ideal community groups will likely vary somewhat based on location and local dynamics.

Doherty pointed to local groups like Rotary clubs. These groups can help new REALTORS®  connect with local professionals and businesses while demonstrating their commitment to community improvement. Chambers of Commerce and other business associations are also excellent options. 

Tips to Guide New REALTORS® 

Networking is a very individual experience. While certain approaches will help most REALTORS®, each agent has to figure out what networking options work best for them. To help guide this learning process, we asked Devin Doherty for some tips on navigating real estate networking: 

  • Balance Professional and Client Networking. New agents need to develop both their professional industry networks and their client networks. On top of all the other extra work that goes into building a real estate career, balancing these two network development angles can be difficult.

    Devin’s advice: Timebox the work you put into each network. Time can be the largest constraint on what new agents can do within a day, a month, or a year. Intentionally managing the time allocated to each activity can help curate both networks.
      
  • Seek Out Mentorship. There is a lot new REALTORS® have to learn. Long-term, agents have to also figure out how to continue learning throughout their careers. Rather than attempt to reinvent the wheel, new agents can benefit from learning from those who have already seen success.

    Devin’s advice: Find a mentor who can help integrate into the local market and community. Mentors can also provide other advice and guidance early in one’s career. This is a factor that can influence which brokerage new agents join.
  • Go Where the Business Is. When networking for clients, be pragmatic about where the greatest likelihood for business is. Think along lines of industries and life changes that can lead people to buy or sell real estate.

    Devin’s advice: “The main reasons that REALTORS® are called into action are death and divorce.” Network within those industries to support people as they experience some of the most dramatic life changes they will ever go through.

  • Have the Right Mindset. New agents should make sure that they’re balancing pragmatism with optimism when building out their networks. The biggest networking mistake that new agents can make, in Devin’s opinion, is assuming whether and how people want to network with them too early.

    Devin’s advice: One one hand, don’t presume that people won’t want to connect with you. The risk associated with asking for a connection or a conversation is very low. Alternatively, don’t expect that people agents know personally will want to work with them by default. Agents have to be willing and able to provide value to turn people into clients.