If you are a real estate agent you know how profitable it can be to handle referrals from other agents. Getting involved in two-way referrals with other agents is one of the most lucrative aspects of the business. But the fact is, most real estate agents are not taking advantage of this opportunity as much as they could.
As an agent you need a game plan for getting referrals, and this article contains some suggestions for developing one. What this strategy really boils down to is combining the power of the internet with good old fashioned networking.
Using the Networking Power of the Internet
The internet allows you to interact with people from across the country and around the world. This is especially the case when it comes to social networking sites like Active Rain, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and many others.
But for most real estate agents it is difficult to see how social networking sites like Active Rain and LinkedIn can benefit their business.After all, real estate agents deal mostly with local clients, so it is not clear how having professional contacts in cities on the other side of the continent is going to help you.
It is true that Facebook, Twitter and some others will let you network with local people. For example, you might look for friends and followers who live in your city, town or region. Or you might join Facebook groups where the members share some of your interests. Say, for instance there is a group of concerned citizens in your community who have formed a Facebook group to protest against a new big box mall going up on the outskirts of town. Or say there is a dating group or a photography group or a small business group for your city or town.
But getting involved with groups like this has some obvious problems.You may not want to identify with the cause being promoted, or it may just not be a very good "fit" in other ways. Usually the range of interests is so broad on Facebook and Twitter that finding people who might be interested in your service is a long shot. Almost any group of local followers is going to contain people with other causes to promote, entrepreneurs pushing their products or services, kids killing time, and just ordinary people who want to share news and photos with their friends and relatives.
Almost none of these people want you pitching your real estate services - even in subtle ways - in every post or comment you make. So it will be difficult to get your marketing message across without turning more people off than you turn on.
What you really want to find are people interested in real estate issues and opportunities in your local community, and you're probably not going to find them on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Active Rain, and LinkedIn.
What you can find on some of these sites are other real estate agents. But what good is that? They are not potential clients. They are not likely to buy a home in your town or city.
What you might be able to find on some of these sites are real estate agents who share your interest in exchanging referrals. Especially on a site where that is its entire focus. These are agents who subscribe to the idea "If you scratch my back I'll scratch yours." And that is a great place to start in your quest to build a solid, productive referral network.
Old Fashioned Networking - The Other Necessary Ingredient
In spite of its power and potential as a communication tool, the internet can be a very disappointing tool for marketing. As millions have learned, just throwing up a website or a blog does not guarantee visitors. And it most certainly does not guarantee customers. Even if you find a group of people dedicated to sharing referrals, there is no guarantee they will want to share them with you. Getting response from your network of contacts requires some work - what we call "good old fashioned networking."
The simple fact is, people will not buy from you, or use your services, just because you happen to be on the web. In the first place, most people will never find you. And in the second place, even if they find you they will probably not see any good reason to trust you or prefer you over your competition. This is a hard pill to swallow for most people who have just spent hundreds or thousands of dollars to set up a website, but that doesn't make it less true.
The same goes for participation in networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, or Active Rain. Being there is not enough. You have to participate. Participating helps you develop new friends, followers and networking partners. Participating means telling others what you are doing, sharing your relevant experiences, taking an interest in what others are doing, and showing your interest by commenting on their contributions and ideas or providing suggestions when they have problems.
This is what we mean by "good old fashioned networking" - connecting with people who share some important interests with you, sharing ideas and opportunities with them, and showing an interest in what they are saying and doing.
Is it possible to bring these two things together - the power of the internet and good old fashioned networking - and create a successful marketing strategy in the process? More to the point, is it possible to create a successful agent referral network this way?
Yes it is, and the formula is really quite simple. First you must find other agents interested in networking with you. The internet is a good place to start - especially sites which are dedicated to real estate agent referral networking.
And second you must actually network with them. Introduce yourself, ask them questions, respond to their questions, show them you are interested in what they are doing. Just as you should do with your clients, develop a system for staying in touch with them on a regular basis. You will be surprised how many interesting people you can meet, and how productive such a network can be.