As a realtor, real estate investor, and real estate coach, I meet a lot of people. And frankly, I've learned to embrace that as a blessing, because it opens each and every day up to a new possibility!
Not only is meeting new people fun for me-- it has resulted in so many serindipitous business interactions that I can't even count any more. I never know if the guy I meet in the Appleton Starbucks could be listing his house next month and need to use my services as a realtor, or if somebody I happen to run into at one of my REIA groups might be a partner in my next investing deal. So I try to treat every interaction as a possible networking opportunity.
You might not be as active as me when it comes to being out and about, but the truth is, every interaction you have is a chance to network and make a new friend or potential business associate! And as far as I'm concerned, the importance of networking can't be understated. In fact, it can be the difference between failure and success, no matter what business you are in.
Keeping that in mind, here are some tips to help you be more "effective" when you are meeting people who may become valuable connections. Keep these in mind the next time you get a chance to create a serendipitous coincidence that might lead to your next business!
1. Be Friendly, No Matter What
It's easy to be friendly most of time. All you have to do is smile when you meet people, ask them how their day is going, and try to bring a little extra sunshine to their day. That's easy.
But what happens when somebody accidentally bumps your leg and bruises your shin at the grocery store? Or dings your car in the parking lot? Or you see somebody from High School that you recall as a not-so-nice person?
The fact is, these are networking opportunities, too! In fact, some of the people you THINK you dislike may actually turn out to be friends or even business associates. I've seen it happen many times.
So be the bigger person and realize that THEY are people too, deserving of your respect no matter what initial feelings of dislike or annoyance you might have with them. In my experience, 99 percent of people are good at heart! And if you run into the 1 percent that aren't...well just give a smile anyway and go on your merry way!
2. Know What You (Want To) Do
You might work at the Gap, but if your networking goal is to meet more people to find deals for your budding real estate investing career, don't be afraid to tell that to people!
Some people might call this philosophy "fake it til you make it," but the truth is that if you aspire to do something professionally and you are already taking the steps to do that thing, you aren't faking it at all-- you are straight up doing it! So if you want to be a Realtor or a Real Estate Investor, don't be afraid to tell people that you are working towards that goal.
My friend has a great example of this... he had just graduated from college and was working at a deli, but his real goal was to be an author. One day he struck up a friendly conversation with a couple who was ordering a sandwich. He was open with them about his goal to become a writer. Turns out the couple owned an education publishing company, and they ended up hiring him to write a textbook for their company based on that chance encounter! Now that's cool.
3. Go to Right Places
Of course, your chances of making a connection that will be valuable in the future from a business standpoint are raised dramatically when you seek out places and events that cater to people in the same business you want to have success in.
A great example of this is the Appleton REIA (which I happen to run). It's a place where people who are interested in real estate investing as a career come to gain advice and training in the industry. Once they get there, they are often stunned at the amount of resources that are available to them. Not only do they get wisdom and guidance from people who have been in the business themselves, but they get the chance to network with people who they KNOW are interested in the same thing.
I've seen so many people who meet at these events end up partnering up for mutual benefit. So if you want to open up your network of like-minded people, go to the places that they are guaranteed to gather.
Remember, meeting people is a learned skill that will be easier and easier the more you put it to use. If you have a fear of meeting strangers, you won't get very far because people are the backbone of any successful business. I promise you, the more you get out there and meet people, the easier it will get! Enjoy!