Love it or hate it, networking is an essential part of any real estate career. After all, this industry is all about connection, negotiation and relationships. Here are a few ways you can make the most of your next networking event (and maybe even enjoy it).
Relax into the conversation
A good conversation is all about balance - answer people’s questions, but try not to ramble on.
I usually switch off if I think someone is trying to pull off a ‘hard sell’. Listen to what people have to say and find some common ground. Maybe you grew up in the same neighbourhood, or perhaps you play the same sport? There’ll be something there that transforms you from a couple of strangers into winning conversationalists.
Don’t stress too much about getting ‘off topic’, keep it professional, but let the conversation flow naturally. People will only want to work with you if they genuinely like you.
Controversial as it may be, being likeable and trustworthy is often even more important than showing off your experience. While many networking guides will tell you to go in with a goal in mind, there’s a lot to be said for having a good time and listening to others.
So, how long do you have to make a first impression?
Some research suggests that we form a first impression of someone in less than a second.
A great first impression starts by looking the part, but your body language and facial impressions are the real determinant of a social interaction. When you first meet someone, they’re subconsciously evaluating whether or not you can be trusted, and whether you’re being guarded or open.
Above all, be yourself
At the risk of sounding like your mum, you are one of a kind. Make the most of who you are and don’t try to be anyone else. Being yourself will help you relax which, in turn, will help others feel more relaxed around you.
Adapt to your audience
Many online networking guides are framed around American cultural norms. They include tips like “go in with a goal in mind” and “give out as many business cards as possible”. While that may be the best approach in the USA, it might not go so well in little old Aotearoa. By nature, most Kiwis are more subdued.
Even if you’re a natural extrovert, networking events should be treated with some understanding of wider cultural norms. Imagine you’re playing sneak up on granny with a wild horse. You don’t want to startle them!
Break the silence
Starting a conversation at a networking event can be as simple as introducing yourself, complimenting someone’s appearance (tactfully), or offering to top up their drink.
Leave your phone out of it
If you get out your phone during a networking event, you may as well bring a sign that says ‘Don’t talk to me, you’re not that important.’ At best, you’ll come across as busy, but at worst, you’ll be seen as rude and anti-social. You’re there to network, so network!
Learn how to end a conversation without being rude
We’ve all been stuck in that endless conversation that doesn’t serve either party. Find a way to introduce the person to someone else you know, then quietly bow out. Or, failing all else, excuse yourself to go and grab a bite to eat.
If you offer to do something following a networking event, whether it’s to send a recommendation, book a meeting, or connect them with someone else - make sure you follow through.
Follow these methods, and you’ll quickly establish yourself as both interested and reliable. And that’s how you open the door to more long-term opportunities.
Go forth and network!