I was in the real estate business for 23 years. When I first started I focused on making new relationships with all the people who lived within a radius of 1 mile from my own home. Eventually I knew who lived in every home in the area, when they bought, how many times it had sold, etc. It took a lot of research and many hours of visiting each individual neighbor. This was before computers and the internet – info was logged on index cards. I sent hundreds of personally addressed letters to everyone introducing myself, then followed up with a personal visit.
Those relationships built over time and paid off handsomely with many home listings in my own neighborhood which converted into great commission checks when the homes sold. I called this area my “Listing Farm.” The first year in real estate I was the top agent in my company with the most listings sold, the most sales and overall the top salesman in a group of 65+ agents. I published the first article (Cultivating a Listing Farm) ever on this subject in “Real Estate Today,” the National Association of Realtors® national magazine in 1975.
I had my own door-to-door very small business when I was 10 years old. I started networking as a preteen long before it was ever called “networking.” They called it the “good ol’ boys club” and was defined loosely as anyone who willing to help anyone anytime. A good ol’ boy was one you know you can always count on and he lives his life by his word. The term Good Ol’ Boys Club is refering to the “brotherhood” that a Good Ol’ Boy belongs. Just as the Marines are the few and the proud, so are the members of the Good Ol’ Boys Club.
My first encounter with the good ol’ boys club was sitting in the barbers chair listening to a group of older men (usually farmers) exchanging farming ideas and tips – where to buy the cheapest grain or where to get the best deal when selling their livestock. We didn’t call it networking back then.
Networking is about also about farming. It’s about “cultivating” relationships – cultivating connections with others you can help and who can help you in your pursuit of a referral-based business, financial gain, business ideas, etc. For many years I have applied the concept of cultivating a listing farm to business networking. Just as I cultivated relationships with people in my neighborhood, I have done the same thing by attending numerous groups and getting to know a wide variety of people in many professions. If you want a great plumber, Realtor®, etc., I have one to refer to you and your friends.
“Use networking opportunities to meet people. Then, schedule additional times to connect, so you can build the trust that will allow you to ask for business.” ~ Ivan Misner
Networking takes a lot of attention to detail. It’s about making connections, getting to know them on a personal level, and keeping track of the kind of business they are in, precisely what they do and what kind of business referrals they are looking for. It’s NOT about selling. That may come later… or not. Some the the people I refer rarely ever send me a referral, mostly because they are not in a position to reciprocate. We travel in different groups.
• You have to cultivate the area – Attend networking meetings and events to be visible.
• Plant the seeds – Let people know what kind of business referrals you need with a creative “30 second connection.”
• Water the crop – Follow up with one-on-one meetings to get better acquainted and to determine what kind of business referrals would benefit each other.
• Work the soil – Stay busy consistently looking for business referrals for those in your network. Remember, networking is about giving. Set a goal to offer at least one or more business referral each week.
• Reap the rewards – Celebrate with your networking friends.
For networking to work it is absolutely necessary to keep networking at the top of your priority list and consistently on your mind. Carry a business card holder with the cards of other members of your group with you on every business call you make to remind you to look for new people to network with and for business referrals to pass on to other members.
Copyright © 2014 – Larry James. Adapted from Larry’s latest book, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Networking Coach. He presents networking seminars nationally and “Networking” coaching by telephone or one-on-one. Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”
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