Attending a networking event can induce dread, anxiety, and the cold sweats, but don’t be tempted to skip that local real estate investor association (REIA) meeting! The reality is that business and real estate investing require you to build a team. The fastest way to build an effective one is to start networking with other experts in your area. The highest concentration of these people is usually at a monthly REIA meeting.
When I started my property management business, I went wherever, whenever, and however I could get to REIA meetings with the goal of establishing relationships in the real estate investing community. These groups are easy to find. Here are a few places to start:
• Do an online search for events related to real estate
• Do an online search for real estate associations
• Follow real estate groups on Meetup and Facebook
Once you have identified some groups with which you would like to be involved, attend and interact regularly. The relationships you form will propel you forward, but those business relationships require building. They don’t happen immediately after a simple exchange of business cards.
Don’t Be Afraid to Go Big
To this day, I regularly attend seven different monthly REIA meetings, and I do so with a very specific purpose and plan. I listen carefully not just to the main speaker, but to the others in attendance. I’m always ready to offer value when I hear a situation that falls into my area of expertise.
Once the meeting has concluded, do not be afraid or intimidated; ask the speaker or speakers at least one follow-up question. Engaging the educator at a meeting often enables me to set up a follow-up meeting with speakers wherein I can learn more about the topic and discover additional valuable details and techniques of which I was not previously aware. Often, those meetings also result in additional referrals, contacts, and expert references.
Here’s an example of how this can work:
I once attended a local REIA meeting where the main speaker was the city buildings department manager. After the meeting, I approached the speaker to thank him for some valuable tips that would benefit my clients. Our conversation led to a game-changing opportunity. He referred me to a large non-profit lender in my geographic area that focuses on new property investors. I ended up agreeing to share information about how my business uses technology in property management as part of a monthly training that they offer to all new landlords.
That meant that every month, I, a property manager, got to speak to a fresh audience of landlords. Every month, I was asked to demonstrate my skills to my perfect audience of potential clients!
Had I not attended that event and taken a moment to acknowledge the speaker, they would not have ever known my skillset or introduced me to the lender that had that specific need.
That relationship has lasted for five years and is still going strong.
Showcase Your Contributions with Action
A crucial part of networking effectively at REIA meetings is building a reputation for contributing. Many REIA groups are nonprofit, so the leaders are volunteers. Arriving early and being willing to help, even if it means carrying tables, making coffee, or working the check-in table, will establish your reputation as a trustworthy, reliable person.
Most of my leadership positions in REIAs today are rooted in the fact that I arrived early and was willing to help. Today, I am president and board member for three different housing groups. Those positions have lasted for six years.
Say Thank You. A Lot.
Giving back definitely feels good. Being recognized for your efforts feels even better. Remember, others like that feeling too. Take the time to write a follow-up email to express your thanks for personal meetings. You might even use a video text to capture your tone and sincerity. If you want to truly excel, take things one step further with a handwritten note.
Last of all, remember that networking takes practice. Take advantage of every opportunity to learn, grow, and appreciate others’ skills. The more you put other people first, the more they will recognize and appreciate your skills as well.