Some entrepreneurs relish getting out there and networking at property events, while others hate every minute of it. Either way, 95% of entrepreneurs agree that face-to-face meetings are essential for long-term business relationships – so networking is essential, too.
That means that the only question that matters when it comes to property networking, is this: are you any good at it?
Are you making a great impression on your fellow entrepreneurs and property investors, putting them at ease and making them hungry to partner up with you? Or are you making them nervous, acting like a stalker, and giving them the urge to get the hell away from you?
Property networking events are just like any other networking event: filled with people who can offer you opportunities and partnerships that will improve your business and your bottom line. Let’s look at how you can get yourself noticed and liked, and the things to avoid like the proverbial plague.
Top 10 tips for your next property networking event
1. Research key attendees
If you learn that there is going to be an attendee at an upcoming property networking event who you want to meet, arm yourself with knowledge beforehand. The more you know about their interests, passions and career, the more common ground you will have to discuss.
Find their LinkedIn profiles, check out their blogs and videos, and if they have written books, make sure you read at least one.
Pro tip: don’t drown people in your knowledge of their background and career, unless you want to appear like an overenthusiastic stalker!
2. Practice good conversation etiquette
Don’t just talk about yourself, and don’t push how amazing your own company and business is too much. As in everyday conversation, no one appreciates arrogance or an overbearing speaker.
Ask questions that genuinely interest you, listen intently, and comment on their responses. If they ask you questions, be humble in your answers, and don’t hold on to that imaginary mic for too long.
If you can, remember people’s names whenever you are introduced to them, and if possible, let them speak first. Try to find common conversational ground quickly, show interest in what they are saying and never, ever, interrupt.
3. Practice open body language
Body language is one of the most important factors when introducing yourself to someone new at a property networking event. Research from Virgin into the phenomenon of business networking found that nonverbal cues were actually far more important than the specifics of what was said. Virgin found that 7% of those questioned felt that word choice was most important, 38% considered vocal inflection to be so, and a whopping 55% found facial expressions to be the most significant factor during face-to-face meetings.
In short, smile, shake hands, make eye contact, look happy, look friendly, and look positive.
Don’t stand to one side – go over to people who look interesting and introduce yourself. No matter how shy or unsure you feel, realise that people go to property networking events to … well … network! You aren’t likely to find yourself snubbed, because everyone is attending for the same reason and wants to make new contacts and find new opportunities. The fact that you are going to make it your mission to initiate conversations and make those contacts puts you at an advantage over many of the shy wallflowers.
Give yourself a target of 1, or 3, or 5 introductions to make while you are there, or if you prefer a results-based target, give yourself the aim of finding one good lead.
5. Have your elevator pitch ready
You never know when you are going to meet that all-important contact who can offer exactly what your business needs. When you find yourself face-to-face with that person, you’re going to need a good, strong pitch to let them know exactly why they should want to be involved with you.
The biggest challenge of an elevator pitch is making your listener care. To do this, you need to let them know what it is that you and your business can do for them. What do you have to offer a potential joint venture partnership, and what would an interested party need to do to get involved? Be authentic and natural in your pitch, avoiding sales speak and any attempt to deceive, and before your next meet-up, practice, practice, practice.
6. Bring and accept business cards
This should go without saying, but it doesn’t. Your business card is often your key to unlocking a second meeting with a new contact, and when you tell them that you’ve forgotten it, or you’ve run out, or any other excuse, you will look both silly and unprofessional. Yes, it’s possible to instantly connect via LinkedIn and Facebook, but there are still many “old-school” entrepreneurs who need something they can touch to remind them of you.
You may even want to write a quick note on the back of the business card before handing it over to a new contact, reminding them of what you discussed with them at the event. Even something as simple as, “We talked about serviced accommodation in Slough”, or, “We mentioned a joint venture partnership”, can be enough to jog an entrepreneur’s memory when they are shuffling through that stack of business cards they were received at the event. You can also write reminders on business cards you receive, to help you during follow-up calls.
7. Follow up ALL contacts
Even if you only send a brief, polite email to each person you met at the meeting, make sure to get in touch. You never know whose company, contacts or influence may come in useful at some point, so never snub, and never delay getting back in touch.
While a brief email or text is enough, don’t send a copy-and-pasted response. This will usually be transparent to the recipient, and can even be interpreted as a little insulting. Instead, tell them that you were happy to meet them at the event, make a personalised comment about something you discussed together if possible, and tell them that you will always be open to discussing things further with them at a later date.
8. Get involved
If you find a property networking event that is worth attending on a regular basis, offer your help to the organisers. This way, you can strive to become a key member of the event, as a helper, a greeter, a speaker, a host, or in any other capacity.
Networking and meeting new potential partners becomes far easier once you are directly involved with the organisation of an event. People may begin seeking you out, and you may find that you have greater access to those running the event, too.
9. Don’t go with friends
If you want to force yourself to speak to other people, it’s a good idea to take away the safety net of having access to familiar company. It’s far too easy to stay within your comfort zone if you attend a networking event with a colleague or peer, hanging around with that one person or within the usual social group.
Without the safety net of your friends, you are far more likely to stand on your own two feet and find new people to speak with, just as you should be doing at a networking event where you are seeking new contacts and perhaps a joint venture partner.
10. Limit the number of people you speak to
You can’t meet everybody at once and if you try, you are going to waste the event with introductions and shallow conversations. Lasting business relationships rarely result from a short conversation, and following up such an encounter by phoning them is often only a single step beyond cold calling them.
Instead, aim to spend some good quality time with anyone who seems on a similar wavelength, and who may be able to offer you something in return.
While it is always good to meet new people within your industry who share similar interests to you, you don’t go to property networking events to make friends. Colleagues, contacts and joint venture partnerships are very different to social arrangements, so if you don’t believe that someone you are talking to can offer you anything professionally, then be polite, don’t ever snub anyone, but aim to bow out and move on to the next conversation as soon as the opportunity arises.
What tips would you give to people heading out and networking, in search of new contacts or even joint venture partners? Let us know in the comments, or get in touch via the Facebook Progressive Property community page.
Learn more about joint venture partnerships and what you should be looking for at property networking events in the Progressive Property book, Multiple Streams of Property Income