In-person meet-up groups, conferences and other business events, if approached correctly, can be one of the best places to form life-long business relationships. In order to get the most out of an event, it’s important to go in with a plan, of which there are essentially two approaches: the broad approach or the hyper-focused approach. Do you handout as many business cards and have as many quick conversations as possible, or do you spend time with the one or two entrepreneurs with the goal of forming a personal connection that hopefully results in a mutually beneficial relationship?
Every entrepreneur has their preference, and I’m sure people have achieve success with both. However, from my experience of attending countless real estate events, here is the four-step approach that I have found to be the most effective.
#1 – Create one new relationship
Between the broad and hyper-focused approach, I find the latter to be the most effective. At real estate events, I go in with the outcome of building one friendship per day. I don’t see how many business cards I can hand out. I don’t try to meet as many people as possible. I focus on creating one solid, personal relationship.
If it’s a multiday event, I build one relationship per day.
As long as I leave the conference with my new friend, I consider it a success, regardless of the immediate business outcome.
#2 – Ask personal questions
By approaching real estate events in this manner, we are playing the long-game. We are taking the time to actually learn about what this person has going on from both a business and personal perspective. The majority of the conversation should be you learning about their goals, and most importantly, why they are attending the event.
That last part is the money question. Why did you come to this event and what are you trying to get out of it?
#3 – Follow up on LinkedIn
When the conversation ends, I’ll take some quick notes on how this person answered the money question. Then, when I get home after the conference, I send them a colleague request on LinkedIn, along with a personal message.
That’s very important. I don’t just add them as a colleague. I take it one step further and send them a personal note based on why they attended the event and what they intended on getting out of it.
The reason for this personal note is to stand out in a sea of basic colleague requests and if I go back to their profile years later, I will remember how I met them and what we talked about.
I meet so many people that I usually forget how I initially met someone, so this personal note technique acts as my external memory bank. LinkedIn does an amazing job keeping track of messages that people send back-and-forth all the way back to the message sent with the initial colleague request.
#4 – Offer to add value to their business
After adding them on LinkedIn and sending them a personal note, I determine if I can add value to this person now. If we aren’t at comparable phases in our businesses, I usually end with a personal message. However, if it makes sense for me to add value now, what I usually do is connect them with someone in my network who is focused on whatever they are trying to accomplish (which I uncovered by asking the money question at the event).
That ends my structured approach to networking at real estate events, at which point I have a new relationship and have hopefully been able to add value to their business. Now I simply repeat the process for each event I attend.
Next time you attend an event, try this approach. Again, it is more of a long-term play, but based on my personal experience, I’ve gotten a ton of value out of it and I hope you do as well.
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as an offer to buy or sell any securities or to make or consider any investment or course of action.