You’re always generating leads, right? Every dinner party, every meeting, every chance encounter with a stranger. I’m a broker! Hire me!
I officially give you permission to chill. In fact, if you don’t power down the robo-broker, you run the risk of missing out on the big success of your real estate career.
Because here’s what most people get wrong: They try to generate leads instead of generating relationships.
Relationships, people, relationships. Actual, real, human connection.
Leads without some kind of personal connection are like seeds you never water. They’re not going to be fruitful in the future. A lead wants to buy a home and knows you’re a broker. A relationship adds the feeling that you are the only person they want to work with to buy or sell their home.
Are you a hunter or a gatherer?
The masculine energy around lead generation calls it hunting. Men are just so hunty about it. I’m more of a gatherer. Perhaps it’s an abundance mindset, the idea that there are plenty of people out there, and if I become a part of their world and make them comfortable with me, they’ll trust me enough to use me when they need a broker.
As long as I build my business, do the best job I can for the people I help, and connect with enough people, the universe shall provide. And it has.
The Basics of Relationship Building
Lead gen focuses on throwing as many seeds in the ground as possible. Relationship building focuses on tending to the most viable plants in your garden. When done right, it will feel calmer, more satisfying, and profitable.
- Pick the right relationships. Studies have shown that humans really only have the capacity to maintain about 150 relationships. Any more and you’ll run yourself ragged while simultaneously not really building anything. You can’t foster every relationship. It’s smarter to choose your 150. Pick people you want to maintain relationships with, people you actually enjoy. Humans are really sensitive to others who are not genuine, so a fake smile for someone who irks you won’t get you far. Additionally, if you feel like the other person generally likes you, you’re going to feel confident when reaching out to them. I spent too much time in my life following up with people and trying to have touchpoints with people I didn’t have a genuine connection with. Don’t make that same mistake.
- Add value. It’s really clear when you’re focusing on a relationship and aiming to be a person of value to someone else. Check in at least weekly with something they might be interested in, whether an article, a listing, or a question about something that’s going on in their life.
- Did you get that puppy?
- Did you have your baby?
- Did you finish your reservation?
- Did you like the painter?
- Are you happy with your apartment?
- Did your kids get into that school?
- Are you out in the Hamptons?
- Hey, I’m walking down the street in your neighborhood and you popped in my mind…
When you actually have relationships with people, it’s not hard to reach out. It’s when you don’t have actual relationships that you feel desperate.
- Take good notes. Nothing’s worse than asking, “How’s your daughter?” to someone who doesn’t have any kids. Keep your CRM updated as a habit every day. Anyone I meet, I follow them on Instagram, connect on LinkedIn, and look for them on Twitter. I like a few of their posts to get my face in their feed. Then, of course, I enter them in my CRM. Any time you have a conversation, have their record open already so you can easily type notes. Out in the field, you can record a short voice memo to type out later or send to an assistant to type out for you.
- Know that you kick butt. Believing that you genuinely add value and someone would be lucky to work with you is really important. It’s a genuine shift that you provide something that other people can’t provide. When you feel confident that they would be lucky to work with you, then you feel like you can connect. Make a list of 100 reasons why someone would be lucky to work with you. If you get stuck, ask the people who love you what makes you great. Keep a list of compliments you get in a folder, and write yourself a list of transactions where you went above and beyond. Keep it top of mind that you’re a star. If all else fails, look in the mirror and remind yourself that you’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and people like you dammit.
Your 3 Most Important Referral Sources
Of everyone you meet, there are three kinds of key referral sources that you’ll really want to pay attention to nurturing. Efforts put into these relationships will return many times more than those to just anyone.
1. The Superconnector
Those people who just love connecting people? They are your new best friends. This is a personality type, for sure: the super-mingler. Even better, however, are those in the fields where they’re the first to hear when a person might be looking for a new place. They might be attorneys, wealth management professionals, or designers. This is the first person someone might call, right before they need a real estate broker.
When you meet someone like this, start checking in with them at least once every two weeks, and never let a month pass where you don’t at least call to say you were just passing that one building and thought of that thing they said.
If you could cultivate at least 10 of these kinds of relationships, it would work wonders on your lead gen.
2. Your Community Members
Quite simply, this is where your peeps are. It’s who you hang out with. Who’s in the same parent meetings, arenas, or churches. How do you know who these people are? You show up.
Here’s the important thing. When you’re introduced, say what you do and let them be interested in it or not.
Gasp! You mean don’t ask them about the square footage, year, mortgage rate, and possible sale of their home?
When people want to talk about real estate, you can talk about it, but don’t bring it up. Let them turn the conversation to real estate. Don’t turn the conversation to real estate yourself.
This is the art of not being a creep.
Because you are not there to use people. You’re there to know people.
People just really hate to be sold, and they really really hate to be sold at their daughter’s dance recital.
You have to become a real part of the community before you sell anything to them. You also need to be ready to take it on the chin if they don’t use you.
All of this is long-term investing. It’s not like day trading with relationships. This isn’t something that you go in for two years and pop out.
You know you’re starting to gain trust when people say things like, “I know that you only work on high-end, but would you come to my apartment and take a look? I really value your opinion.”
It will start slow, but then all of a sudden you might become the It girl, and that can blow up your business. (In a good way.)
This is where doing smaller deals might start to pay off. People start to know your work and hear that you sold their neighbor’s house, and then their golfing buddy’s house. This kind of social proof can do way more work than shoving the topic of real estate into every buffet-side conversation. Everyone thinks they need to go after business with a stick. I think the carrot is better.
So, even if you feel too busy, show up, to school functions, birthday parties, and potlucks, be your fabulous self and trust that that’s enough. Consistency counts, too. Try for at least an event a week, and you’ll quickly start to feel like an integral part of the community.
Which events and communities do you choose? As a mom, there’s a lot. You have to pick. Find the places you can enjoy yourself and feel natural, somewhere you really feel like a part of things. You have to be able to be yourself.
One rule I finally made for myself is that I don’t go to events from 3 – 5 p.m. I found that I too often had to step out of phone calls, and I felt rude and torn. After business hours, I’m able to make the strongest connections, the kinds of connections that will yield the most business.
3. Your Past clients
Step one of getting work from your past clients is to do a stellar job. Of course you’re going to do that, so no issue there.
Then you keep in touch, at least quarterly. You might want to give them a closing gift that they’ll use, such as a robo-vac, an orchid, or something else they’ll keep around the house. Check in on the anniversary of closing and send holiday cards.
If they’re going to sell again, then you’ve kept in touch with them and you’re the first person to come to mind.
I never ask for referrals. I think it’s just implied. And if you do it right, you get them without asking.
Your Relationship-Building Daily Practice
Every week, I look through my CRM to see who I could touch base with. I pick 20 to 30 people to focus on and write out the list. I like Ryan Serhant’s 5/5/5, which is 5 emails, 5 calls, and 5 texts every day. I don’t always make it. If you get through your list, you can pick more.
In general, try to get this done early in the day. It’s that important.
It can be weird to call these people, but it’s part of your job. If you’re in sales, you have to learn how to start a conversation.
Buying cold leads
When you’re first starting out, one way to leap ahead is to buy cold leads. This gives you something to do while you’re slowly building the relationships that will pay off later. There are a lot of ways to pay for leads. You can buy them upfront or pay for them when you close.
What do I think of buying leads? Basically I think that it’s a great way to get low-risk practice. If you don’t kick it out of the park, you aren’t embarrassing yourself in front of your community.
You can work on the phrases that you use, questions you ask, and your general communications skills.
It’s usually something you do at the beginning of your career, but even today I’d take a cold lead for a million-dollar sale.
Your job is lead generation.
No matter what your business comes from, you need to be able to close leads. There’s nothing about our business that doesn’t come back to lead generation. So basically closing leads is the way you make the money, but the way you source your pipeline is by generating leads. Relationships are the best way to start.
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