Community Connections


community connection

What’s Good For Your Soul & Your Real Estate Business?

Engaging in a group setting, especially one focused on or in your community, is a fantastic way to meet buyers, sellers and garner referrals. In addition, you can learn new skills and enrich your life while you are making connections.

The first step is to consider the type of group you want to join. Is it one that is close to your heart? Do you want to learn something or associate with other like-minded business individuals? Or perhaps you would prefer to connect on a topic that is more like a hobby to you. Take a look at the diagram below and think about the type of group you want to join.

Choosing the right group:

Heart, Head, and Hands Chart

Now that you have an idea of the type of group, narrow your options:

Professional networking groups
offer many networking opportunities for people who prefer a professional approach. These include everything from your local Rotary Club, Lions, Elks, LeTip, your local Chamber of Commerce and more. Just go online and type in ’<your town> networking groups’ and you might be surprised to see all the opportunities to connect.

Because there are so many options, remember to not only choose a group that will meet your business goals, but your personal ones as well. For example, if you are an avid animal lover and you choose a group whose fundraising efforts benefit the local animal shelter, it’s a win-win.

As you are investigating possible groups to join, keep in mind that some groups have annual or one-time fees attached to them. Some only allow one or two people from a particular profession, so if there is already a real estate broker involved, then you may be out of luck. Still, others have a focus on recruiting and their members are required to meet a recruiting minimum or raise a minimum amount of funds each year. Keep this in mind when you are considering how much time the group you are participating in will truly take out of your life and business.

Skill-building groups
Nothing can bring people closer together than learning a new skill. This might be a short-term group such as a twelve week course on photography or a long-term group such as one that meets twice a week to discuss life goals and keep each other accountable.

One of my all-time favorite skill-building groups is Toastmasters. If you are not familiar with this group, the goal is to become better at—and more comfortable with—public speaking. The members of Toastmasters often share their own life experiences, and the supportive communication environment brings people closer together. Not only do the brokers improve their presentation skills, they build lasting relationships with the group and new people join all the time.

Volunteering
Scouts, soccer, animal rescue, trail maintenance, PTA, the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life…there are probably dozens of volunteer opportunities in your community. Some are ongoing, some are seasonal, and some are annual.

Be careful not to volunteer—or be volunteered—for groups requiring "busywork" tasks. For example, volunteering to help coordinate an event with others is a much better use of your networking time than volunteering to put the labels on the monthly newsletter.

Habitat for Humanity is an effective volunteer organization that gets you in front of a lot of people over a short period of time. The other bonus is people building homes are likely to have real estate on their minds as they are in the middle of a new construction situation.

Sponsorships
Event and team sponsorships are excellent, but keep in mind, they usually cost a certain dollar amount. Sponsorships generally include your logo in collateral materials, a table at the event (depending on the event), and possibly addressing the group. Types of events that have sponsors include local art shows and festivals, charitable fundraisers, theater groups, county fairs, and more. Think of an event that is happening in your area and there is the likelihood of a sponsorship available.

The key is to not just think of a sponsorship as an advertising opportunity, but as a connecting one as well. For additional exposure, you might volunteer to help coordinate the event ahead of time, thereby establishing a relationship with other contacts, sponsors, or vendors. During the event, you should consider how you are going to draw people in. Are you going to give something away such as a free neighborhood by neighborhood appreciation rate chart? Your top ten investment picks? Make connections and gather contact information so you have potential clients to follow up with later. Think of your strengths and interests and consider how you can take your sponsorship to a new level.

Hobbies/Interests
Whether your interests include hiking, reading, or recreational soccer, think about how you can turn your interest into an opportunity to connect. This can be especially effective for brokers who have a difficult time carving out time for themselves. The beauty of this kind of group is there is no guilt involved and having a set time to get out of the office can be beneficial. Even your yoga class can be a great opportunity to connect with others.

7 Rules to Group Connection Effectiveness

  1. Test the waters. Attend a few meetings as a visitor to get a feel for the group dynamic. Do people work together to accomplish goals or is there "infighting"? Is an agenda followed? Does everyone file out afterwards or does it look like people make an attempt to connect with each other? Keep an eye on those group dynamics when determining if a group is a good fit. If you feel the dynamic is not right, it is okay to move on.
  2. Find a networking opportunity that gets you in front of enough people to keep enough leads in your business. If you join a quilting group with only eight people, it will not likely generate an ongoing stream of leads. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t join, but you may need to join a few small groups before you have impact.
  3. Volunteer, but don’t volunteer so much that it takes over your life and business. Your goal is to impress, not to find a second calling. If you take on too much and then cannot deliver, this can leave a negative impression. Remember the old saying, "Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should."
  4. Attend all meetings! Attend all meetings and you will be seen as reliable but miss meetings and you risk being seen as "flaky".
  5. Participate in group events. Get a sample schedule as you are inquiring about the group so you can have a clear idea of the time commitment.
  6. Get to know the members. Ask questions and engage at each meeting. Ask questions about what others do for a living. Add as friends on Facebook and make connections.
  7. Build one solid relationship per meeting. Make it a goal each time you go to a meeting to connect with someone new and build a relationship.

 


Denise Lones

Denise Loans

The founding partner of The Lones Group, Denise Lones, brings over two decades of experience in the real estate industry. With expertise in strategic marketing, business analysis, branding, new home project planning, product development, and broker training, Denise is nationally recognized as the go-to for all things "real estate." Visit www.thelonesgroup.com for more information.

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