Anyone for Tennis: In-Person Networking—Not Phone Calls—Helps Seal Deals

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There’s more than one way to make a deal.

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There’s also more than one way to start a deal. In fact, in my experience, there are in excess of 20 different ways to start a relationship with a future client. When I was a new investment sales agent looking to break into the NYC market in the early part of the past decade, I was told that the phone was the way to go. Direct prospecting is extremely powerful, and it helped me get a fast start in the business.

However, when I look around at the top producers I know in different niches in real estate, most of them are very well rounded in their prospecting and execute more than just one way to generate new business. It took me a little while to learn this valuable lesson. You’ll need more than the phone to become and remain a top-producing agent.

In the last 14 days, I have attended six separate networking events. Some were tennis, one was golf, one was a party honoring various movers and shakers, and by the end of this two-week networking marathon, I had met more than 100 people for the first time and reconnected with another 100 whom I hadn’t caught up with for a while. While reflecting on what was accomplished at all these functions, I started to think back to my early days in brokerage and realized that it probably took me my entire first year in the business to meet 200 people who worked in real estate, because all I used was the phone to generate my business. I remember when I didn’t have two pennies to my name and I wanted to go play in the golf or tennis outing but couldn’t come up with the $350 sign-up fee. I wasn’t sure that the money required to invest in the event would be worth it. In hindsight, I should have been more aggressive and come up with the money to invest in networking sooner in my career. Networking is a very powerful tool that, if focused appropriately, can open many doors.

Once you make it through the first year in the business and your pipeline is starting to solidify, that’s the time to begin reinvesting in yourself and your business. You are now capitalized to invest in yourself, and top producers always do. Networking is part of a comprehensive overall strategy that almost all top-producing agents, no matter what their industry focus, participate in. Top producers are constantly generating new business—it’s what keeps them at the top of the list, and they are always hunting.

With so many organizations in NYC that focus on real estate, I was overwhelmed when I first showed up on the scene: REBNY, ULI, ICSC, CHIP, NAOIP, CCIM, UJA, YREPNY—it was alphabet soup to me. I had no idea which ones to participate in. Add to that all of the charity events and private functions that companies throw on what seems like on a daily basis. My advice is to start with narrowing these events down into two different lists. First, identify where your most likely prospective clients will be participating. Second, find an organization or charity that means something to you personally, enabling you to give back and get involved with your community in a meaningful way.

If you are like I was and haven’t yet jumped headfirst into this business practice of networking as a viable way to generate new business, I encourage you to pull out your calendar now and circle a couple of upcoming events in July and August. It’s a great time of year to get started.