Virtually everyone, in nearly every industry, understands the importance of networking. Unfortunately, very few people know how to network effectively!
Regardless of whether you’re a first-time real estate investor or are an experienced industry player, few things are more important than continuing to build a network of strong connections. This is what will help you achieve greater success with your assets.
It’s always beneficial to learn from industry players that have experience in your field. Additionally, real estate industry connections may help you identify and pursue opportunities you were previously unaware of.
Also, remember that regardless of how talented an investor you may be, it’s impossible to master every skill and learn every piece of knowledge there is to know. Surrounding yourself with people who have complementary skill sets and knowledge can help you establish yourself and diversify your investment expertise.
Building a professional network
Building a professional network requires much more effort and tact than simply exchanging business cards at a networking event. If you’re a first-time investor with little-to-no industry connections, you’ll have to work hard to demonstrate that you’re serious about the success of your investments.
While a lot of networking success boils down to a high amount of emotional intelligence and a charismatic personality, there are many steps you can take to improve your chances of making a strong impression on potential connections. Here are just a few things you can do to help establish your investment network.
Prepare for networking events
One of the most valuable things you can do in advance of a networking event is research and preparation. Many events focus on a specific industry niche or topic. You don’t have to be an expert on the topic, but you should be able to maintain a surface-level conversation with other attendees. Additionally, be sure to research the event’s speakers or prominent attendees.
Talk about what (and who) you know
Even if you’re not an industry expert, you likely still have some real estate investment knowledge. You should show this knowledge off! Discuss topics that you’re familiar talking about in-depth. Be sure to mention any connections you already have in the industry—this can lend you their credibility. There’s even a chance you already have a mutual connection with your current conversation partner!
Establish common goals and interests
If you and your conversation partner don’t have much in common, the conversation likely won’t go very far or be very memorable. You should always identify common goals and interests early on in a conversation. Try discussing your investment objectives, and see how they align with those of other attendees. You don’t necessarily have to be operating in the same part of the industry, but leveraging common interests will help you make your conversations much more interesting and memorable.
Attend different types of events
If you’re going to the same events month after month, you’re not networking correctly. Attend different types of events focusing on different facets of the industry. Additionally, attend events outside of your geographic area. Making connections with people in other markets could help you establish a presence there, or provide you with a unique perspective on your own market.
Offer your own expertise and assistance
The core of networking is mutually beneficial relationships. This means you have to be able to offer your own expertise or services in exchange for the expertise and services of potential connections. Even if you’re new to the industry, you likely have some level of specialization you can use to forge relationships at your next networking event.
Too many people see networking as an opportunity to be someone they’re not. This is the wrong approach. The point of networking is to build trust and rapport with other people. If you’re not being yourself, you’re being disingenuous. It’s easy to find yourself shunned from industry circles if people start to get the wrong impression about who you are or what you represent. Honest is the best policy, and that means being yourself.
Whether you’re connecting with a potential project partner or exchanging tips with someone who knows a good sub-contractor operating in your area, it’s always possible you may meet one or two connections capable of changing your investment trajectory. Pursue networking events with an open mind, and always remember: The goal of any business networking event is building a community.
One final piece of wisdom. Put yourself out there! Everyone else at a networking event or social gathering is in the same boat as you are. There’s no need to feel shy or timid. Say hi, strike up a conversation and you’ll be at ease in no time, making connections with people who matter.