If you want to meet with an experienced, big-time investor, simply sending them a message on BiggerPockets or an email, for example, and inviting them out to lunch, coffee, or a phone call isn’t the best approach.
That approach might work for real estate brokers or newer investors because offering to grab a coffee with them is fulfilling a need. If the real estate broker is interested in gaining you as a client, they can accomplish that by accepting your invitation. For the newer investor, every interaction they have with a fellow real estate professional can lead to an opportunity, no matter how small, that will have a significant effect on their business. And I am sure they would both appreciate the free coffee or lunch.
However, if you want to get face-time with a more seasoned investor, don’t expect to do so without offering something more in return. Of course, there are exceptions, but typically they don’t need someone paying for their coffee. And if the purpose of the meeting is for you to pick their brain, they really won’t be benefiting from that either. Also, the more successful an investor is and the larger their portfolio, the more coffee, and lunch invitations they are receiving. Maybe you catch them at the right time and they accept your invitation, but most likely, they will decline because they have much more important things to do with their time. Therefore, you will need to approach them at a different angle.
Chris Tracy, who has been active in the world of real estate for five years, ran into this problem. He was ready to make the jump into the big leagues (from small residential to large multifamily investing), which required connecting with big-time investors. In our recent conversation, he explained the best way to stand out from the crowd of coffee/lunch invitations and to link up with veteran investors.
When reaching out to experienced investors, Chris says, ask yourself, “what are their needs?” Again, if you ask a big-time investor out to coffee to pick their brain, are you fulfilling one of their needs? The answer is no.
“I see a lot of these people on BiggerPockets,” Chris said, and “you always see that comment in the forum where people would say, ‘Hey, I need a mentor. I’d love to meet up and have coffee.’ Well, I’ve got news for you. The guy that owns a huge portfolio [doesn’t] have time in [their] day to go out and have coffee with all kinds of random people that want to mentor them. [They] don’t have time for that.”
Instead, when sending a message, focus on adding value. As an analogy, Chris said, “If you’re trying to learn how to play basketball and you want LeBron James to teach you how to play basketball, learn what LeBron James needs.” The same applies to real estate investors. Chris said to learn “what the needs are of the person and bring value to them, and say, ‘Hey, do you need anyone to help you underwrite deals? Do you need anyone to help you make phone calls? I’ll bring you deals. What do you need?’ Not just, ‘Hey, can we do lunch?’…That would be much more attractive and appetizing, and you’d have the better success…if you can just focus on bringing value.”
If you want to really stand out, instead of asking “What are your needs?” in your message, do some research, anticipate their needs, and proactively add value without even asking them what their needs are. For example, I had someone reach out to me recently who researched my background, discovered that I was looking for apartments in the Dallas area, and offered to not only find me deals but to conduct the on-the-ground due diligence as well.
Even if your offer isn’t what they are looking for, who cares! Most likely, no one has done that for them, at least not recently, and you’ll stand out regardless. You’ll definitely receive a response, at which point you can discover (or they will disclose) a need they have, you can fulfill that need, and start to build a relationship.
When reaching out to experienced, big-time real estate investors, don’t invite them to coffee or lunch to pick their brains. You will typically get rejected or not receive a response. Instead, ask them what their needs are.
To increase your chances of a response even more, proactively address their needs by researching their background, and when initially reaching out, either offer to fulfill that need, or even better, have already done the work to fulfill that need.
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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.