In my first year of business, I would try to attend at least one industry-related networking event per week. I met at least half of my real estate and property developer clients in the first few years of my real estate photography business through these types of events. Although not all the new connections made at these events turned into clients immediately, there were many times in the future where those connections had become friends and then provided introductions to other people who have become great clients of the business.
Networking is a great way to meet potential real estate clients as the attendees are usually motivated to meet new people in the industry and make genuine business connections. Start by making a list of networking events in your area that you can attend for free or at a minimal cost.
To find upcoming networking events either perform a Google search, use an events website (such as eventbrite.com) or look up the events page of your local Real Estate Institute, Chamber of Commerce or Business Bureau websites.
When attending networking events, remember that the key to being a good conversationalist is being a good listener. Ensure you get a chance to tell the person about what you do but give them plenty of time to tell you about themselves and what they do. Keep the conversation relatively short, as you don’t want to take up too much of people’s time. They want to meet other people in the room, and so do you.
Many events provide catering; however, it’s best to avoid eating during the networking session as nothing makes a worse first impression than greeting someone new with something green stuck
in your teeth or having horrible breath from the blue cheese you just engulfed. Just hold a drink in your left hand and keep your right hand free for handshakes (or fist-bumps)when you introduce yourself to new connections.
Within a couple of days after the event, send each of the people you met a personalised email asking if they would like to catch up for coffee to continue the conversation and discuss ways you could help them with their business. Remember to exchange (physical or digital) business cards at the event, so you have their details, and don’t forget to bring plenty of business cards of your own because you don’t want to run out.
A ‘coffee catch-up’ within a week after a networking event is a great way to lay the foundation for a solid business relationship which will hopefully lead to them being a long-term client for your business. After the face-to-face meeting, don’t forget to connect with their business’ social media pages so you can keep up to date with their business activities.
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