July 25, 2022

JF2883: Expert Tips for Expanding Your Network Pt. 2 | Round Table

Each week for the Best Ever Round Table, the three Best Ever Show hosts — Ash Patel, Slocomb Reed, and Travis Watts — come together for a deep dive into a commercial real estate investing topic.

In this episode, Ash, Slocomb, and Travis continue their conversation from last week’s episode, Expert Tips for Expanding Your Network Pt. 1. They share helpful conference hacks, networking success stories, CRM strategies, and how they each keep in touch with their network.

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Ash Patel: Hello, Best Ever listeners. Welcome to the Best Real Estate Investing Advice Ever show. I'm Ash Patel and I'm joined today by Travis Watts and Slocomb Reed. Travis and Slocomb are fellow co-hosts for the Best Ever podcast. This is our Weekly Round Table, where we pick a topic and share our discussions with all of you. On today's episode, we are going to continue last week's topic of networking. On last week's episode, we talked about networking online, networking offline, we covered things that people do correctly incorrectly when it comes to networking, and one of the big takeaways that we spoke about quite a bit was people love to talk about themselves.

So on today's continuation of last week's episode, we want to start out with talking about networking at conferences. We covered a lot of this last week, but one thing I do want to add is a little hack that I did last time at the Best Ever Conference was we sat in a room where the topic was on retail, and that's my bread and butter. So I really wanted to continue the conversation with all of the people that were in the room. So what I did was I got on my phone, and if you have an iOS device, Apple device, you can airdrop people. So I airdropped a message to the entire room. Anybody who accepted my airdrop saw a message that said, "I'm very sorry about this intrusive interruption, but if you would like to further discuss retail, I would be happy to talk to you outside of this room after this conference." And it worked. A few people took me up on it, but again, any cool hacks that you guys can share... Slocomb, introduce yourself again and see if there's any cool hacks that you've seen or done at conferences.

Slocomb Reed: Best Ever listeners, Slocomb Reed here, apartment owner operator based out of Cincinnati, Ohio. And I do have to say, I was anti-Apple for the longest time, until I had an issue with a non-Apple laptop that drove me to all Apple products in early 2021. And I have to say, Apple really does things that make life easier and simpler for people who just port over into the iOS ecosystem. So that makes a lot of sense. Hacks at conferences, I have followed Travis Watts's advice about business cards, and made sure that I have a business card with my face on it. I believe I discussed this last time. The back of my business card is blank, and has a matte finish instead of a glossy finish, so that I can write someone else's info on it if they don't have a card and I need to follow up with them.

The only thing I'll add to that , in case I didn't say it last time, was when I was at the Denver airport with a couple hours before my flight back home after the conference, I pulled a fast [unintelligible 00:05:06.12] of business cards out of my pocket while I was sitting at dinner and just messaged every single person right then and there, before getting on the flight, about who I am, glad we connected, what we connected about, and either hope to talk to you soon, or can we schedule something for X date?

That's something I also do at local meetup events. I collect business cards, collect the contact info. When I give my business card, I tell people to text me immediately, and then I go out to my car at the end and I pull out the business cards and I look at my texts and I respond to everyone right then and there before I leave. That way, it's top of mind; the more urgent or pressing, or the more interested I am in meeting with someone, I look to schedule something, get on their calendar immediately following that event, while I'm fresh on their minds.

Ash Patel: Yeah, these are great tips. Slocomb, I'm going to piggyback on that. We talked about last week how you and I are typically the last people standing at these conferences. I don't care if it's 2:00, 3:00 in the morning, we're going to network as much as we can. But one of the things that I also did was I wanted to see if anybody was flying out around the time that I was, and I offered to share a ride with those people. And then, once you get to the airport, sit down, go to a restaurant, go to a lounge; just interact, because you're sitting there doing nothing, so you might as well keep the networking going until the very last minute. So great advice, Slocomb. Thank you.

Travis, you gave us some amazing tips about putting your picture on your business card. Any other last-minute tips before we wrap up the networking at conferences section?

Travis Watts: Sure. Hey Best Ever listeners, Travis Watts, full-time passive investor, Director of Investor Relations with Joe Fairless at Ashcroft Capital. My main topics last time were what you guys piggybacked on. The reason you have a matte finish and a blank back of the card is because that's a common thing you run into at a conference is someone that's new to a conference, never been before and they just don't have a business card, or they didn't think they needed a business card because they were just there to learn and they didn't have a specific purpose. So to that point, I would say clarify your purpose ahead of time. Know exactly what it is you want to get out of that conference. Put together a story brand, if you can. Tell a story to people, instead of just saying, "Hey, I'm Joe. I'm just here to learn." That's hard to remember. But a story about Joe you may resonate with or remember better.

And you guys mention some great things about having a call to action. Even if you're not selling something, have a follow-up in mind ahead of time, whether it's scanning a little QR code on a business card, whether it's texting them, whether it's saying, "Hey, let's follow up." And timing is everything, Slocomb. That was great. You said, "I run to my car after the conference and I follow up." That's the best way to do it. Sometimes when you do it immediately after, it's not as effective, and it's certainly not effective to wait two weeks and to say, "Hey, by the way... Just getting around to these follow-ups after the conference." People have already forgotten you and moved on and followed up with everybody else. So timing is everything. I think that's really all I had to add to what we talked about last time.

Slocomb Reed: Travis, I was taught an acronym when I first got into business for myself. BAMFAM. BAMFAM stands for book a meeting from a meeting. If follow-up is critical, you don't want to leave any opportunity to go out of sight or out of mind with the person you're meeting with - potential client, partner, investor, whatever it is. So you BAMFAM. Before the first meeting ends, you book the next one, so that you know it's on your calendar, you know you have your follow up set, and you're staying in front of the person you need to stay in front of.

Travis Watts: That's a great one.

Ash Patel: The next thing I want to get into is how networking has helped your business. For any of our Best Ever listeners that still think it's okay to be a one-man, one-woman shop and do what you're doing, you don't need to network, I'll give you my opinions. Networking for me - I've mentored a number of people over the years and it's amazing how those people will bring you deals. They'll connect you to some incredible people that will either become investors, partners, or deal finders. So without all of the networking that I've done -- and if you remember from the last week, I tried to do this all by myself for years, and it wasn't until I put myself out there and started networking that my business really blew up. So any good success stories or any advice on how networking has helped your business, Slocomb?

Slocomb Reed: This is a bit anecdotal, but five and a half, six years ago - we're recording in July, 2022 - a buddy of mine who's a residential single family wholesaler, we decided to start a poker game. And I bring this up because we talked about how to build your business through networking on the previous episode as well, but I didn't say this. We really just wanted to get together and have some fun, and be around like-minded people; bragging rights, some jaw jacking, things like that, but also have the opportunity to talk about the things that we're going through, at a table of people who have similar struggles, similar issues and a frame of reference for that. Also though, it didn't take long for people at that poker table to become friends and start doing business together - selling deals to one another, partnering together, lending money to each other on their deals... Because once a month, they were getting together and chatting and getting to know one another and realizing everything that they had in common. There are private money loans, deals being whole-sold from one friend to another, all because people met and got together around a poker table.

Ash Patel: I go to a lot of those poker games. For anybody that doesn't want to jump into the formal networking, the big meetups, the big conferences, Slocomb's idea - start a poker game. And it's amazing. The great thing about that is I usually get in trouble if I go out to dinner with my wife and there's another real estate person there... On the way home, I get that talk, "All you did was talk shop." While when you're at this poker table with all real estate people, man, that's all we do is talk shop. Nobody gets in trouble. And you're right, how many deals have we done with people in that room? It's amazing. Yeah, I love that. Thank you. Travis, any specifics on how networking has helped your business?

Travis Watts: Sure. I think the number one reason I like, whether it's a small meetup, whether it's a big conference, whether it's just a one-on-one, or a property tour or dinner or whatever it is with somebody, is body language really tells the story. There's a lot of transparency to be had in a one-on-one meetup. And so you really get to know the person that way. A, you're spending extended time with them, not just a 10-minute phone call or something like that, but you just learn about people in a much more dynamic way. So I think that's the biggest perk and reason. I can't tell you, on a personal note, just being a limited partner in syndications, how many folks I've networked with and ended up doing deals with them, so that's the personal side, and how many people I've been able to connect with on the Ashcroft side and really get to know them and/or follow up with, "Hey, you live in Dallas? We've got a lot of properties there. Let's set up and coordinate a time to do a property tour." Whether I'm there or not kind of depends. I'm out in Orlando, so I do all the Orlando property tours. But to be able to meet somebody in person, introduce them to our team, walk around and explain our business plan in real life and then go have lunch afterwards and really dive into getting to know them is invaluable. I've found the best investors that way.

So again, whether you're active, whether you're passive, real estate's a person business. It's a relationship business. So that's why it's so important. You can certainly conduct yourself through online only. It's just a lot harder to do. So I would say make the time, whether it's one conference a year or a local meetup once in a while, or taking people up on the offer to do lunches. I think it's all very important.

Ash Patel: Yeah, great advice. And there are some people - I've got somebody trying to get on my calendar; they don't want a phone call. They don't want a Zoom call.

Travis Watts: Yeah.

Ash Patel: I think they're a little bit older. They want an in person meeting and they're an hour and a half away. So I've got to be respectful of that and carve out time for that. So thank you for that advice.

Now, all of this networking is great, but if you don't have a CRM system, a way to track all of your contacts, it falls by the wayside. Somebody you met 8, 9, 10 years ago, who could be a great contact today, if you don't have their contact or if you don't have notes about what they did or what industry they're in or how you can help them or they can help you, all of that networking is kind of wasted effort. And I think by now we've all learned... I'm a very slow learner, so for years I had the business cards and maybe little post-it notes, and then I graduated to an Excel Spreadsheet, which is where I'm at now. And I'm looking at different CRM systems, but my Excel Spreadsheet has worked fairly well for me. Slocomb, is there something you use for a formal CRM now? And what did you do before, that you graduated from?

Slocomb Reed: Yeah. So specific to the networking that we're talking about right now, I am in the process of transitioning from using an Excel Spreadsheet to a formal CRM. I have Podio set up for my off-market lead generation, and there's no reason why I can't use Podio to keep track of my sphere as well. Podio starts out free and then has several paid add-ons if you want to integrate it with other services. Depending on what kind of lead generation you're doing, if you need to integrate it with a dialer, or an SMS platform or an email platform or something else like that, it's easy to share certain contacts with people who are working with you, but not others.

The amount of categorization that you can go through though with a formal CRM like Podio, where I can delineate who's in Cincinnati and who's not, I can give them several tags that say the different components of what I do that might cross-pollinate well with what they do, or services that I offer that they may need that I should be following up with them about the services they offer that I may need, Podio is the CRM that I'm in the process of transitioning to, primarily because I'm already using it for lead generation for finding deals.

Break: [00:15:32] to [00:17:19]

Ash Patel: Travis, what about you? What did you start out with and what do you use now?

Travis Watts: Sure. I've got two sides of the coin, right? So I've got my personal LP side of things where I'm just an investor and I tend to not have hundreds of thousands of leads that I'm having to follow up with on the personal side. So I tend to go deeper for quality versus quantity. So to your point, Ash, I've always used Excel. One of the first jobs I ever had, I learned Excel, and ever since, I have kept that for everything. I track my investments through Excel, my financial sheets, budgets, and then follow-ups with investors. It works well because of the amount of people I have in my personal network that I'm diving deep with. And to me personally, this is where I pull my old saying that I use all the time, you do you. It's individualistic. I don't know if that's a word, but it depends on your circumstances. For example, Ashcroft, they use HubSpot.

So to Slocomb's point, they're running email campaigns. They want to know if this person clicks on this page. We want to then send them this follow up email. And they're always doing e-blast, and all these kinds of things. I don't do that on a personal note, so there's no reason I would need HubSpot and need to pay for that. It's just too much information and too much logistics for me. But that's where if you're active and you're running a syndication, maybe something like that or what Slocomb uses is appropriate. But for me, I know Excel, so that works well.

Ash Patel: I'm glad we had this conversation, because here I am thinking it's inadequate to use Excel, but you're right, I don't need to know who opens my emails and all that crazy other data. I just want names, contacts, and some information with them. So I'm going to continue to use Excel. Thank you for that reinforcement, Travis. And you know, I got to tell you, another thing, Trevor McGregor, when I signed up for his coaching, I was a mess in terms of having data everywhere. Trevor told me that he uses one Excel spreadsheet with about 50 tabs on the bottom for everything. Because once a year or twice a year, I would put my property tax payments in a spreadsheet, and then I'd have another spreadsheet for insurance payments. And 50 different spreadsheets in 50 different places while having one giant Excel spreadsheet that is now a Google Sheet that I share with my assistant has been a game changer. Everything is in one place, very easily accessible. So I think we need to stop defending ourselves for using Excel. It's a great tool.

Travis Watts: [laughs]

Ash Patel: So now, we've done all of this networking, we've got a CRM system, we're keeping track of everybody, it's still not enough. You have to follow up with people. Somebody you met 10 years ago, while they could be a great resource for you today, they may not remember who you were. So what do you guys do to periodically follow up with contacts or let people know what you're working on, whether it's social media, email blast, whatever it is, but how do you keep in touch with your network? Travis?

Travis Watts: I do a multitude of things. That's a great question. One thing I do is when I follow up, I usually encourage people to connect with me on social. So if they become friends with me on LinkedIn, they're automatically kind of in that system of me posting once or twice a week, and then following that content hopefully, and seeing me in different ways so that I don't have to fill out their email and their inbox. So that's been a game changer for me. The other thing I do, this is kind of my hack on my Excel sheet, when I speak with someone, I'm always asking one or two personal questions about hobbies they have, or things of interest to them, and I write down one or two and I try my best to follow up on occasion, let's call it once every three to six months with something of value related to what they told me they're interested in. It could be something as simple as fishing. It could be that they're in the fire movement or that they're aware of that and interested in learning more, which is financial independence, retire early, kind of just a small movement.

So I'll follow up with, "Hey, I just saw a new documentary came out on the fire movement. I took a look at it last week and thought it was pretty cool. Have you seen it?" So it's coming from, A, I remember who they are, and B, that could be valuable to them. And I'm not following up by just saying, "Hey, it's been a while since we spoke. FYI, I have a new deal. You want to check it out?" That's the worst kind of follow up is when you're all business all the time. And they don't even know if that's an automated message or if you even remember who they are. So that's my hack. Remember who they are by taking a couple notes of personal things about them.

Ash Patel: Absolutely incredible advice. Slocomb, what do you got?

Slocomb Reed: Well, I think I can add value to this conversation about follow ups is the way that I use text messaging. Texting is great for sharing factual information, "Hey, Ash. The next meetup is on this date at this time, same location. Are you planning to come?" But the other thing that I'll end up doing if I have a message I need to get out or I need to connect, or I have an ask for my sphere is that I'll use text messages to initiate a conversation, not try to have the full conversation in an opening text, especially if someone hasn't heard from me in a while, and not make a big ask upfront, but I can send 100 text messages that say, "Hey, Travis. You got a quick minute for a call later today or tomorrow? I'm working on X." And I can send 100 of those very quickly to see who's interested in responding and get something scheduled, a phone call, Zoom, probably a call before coffee, just to kind of let it escalate naturally so that we're not taking too much of one another's time while feeling out something I want to collaborate on or work on or provide. So I start with a text blast that I'm sending to a lot of people, but I'm sending it to each of them individually. And I'm using it as a step stone to see if there's any initial interest to see if I can schedule a call and see if that call leads to a meeting.

Ash Patel: Yeah, great advice, Slocomb. I interviewed somebody a while back and I wish I remembered who it was. I should have written it down. But one of the things they do is every morning when they're on their treadmill, they record two voice memos and text it to people in their contact lists that they're truly thinking about, and it's just, "Want to let you know I'm thinking about you and I hope you have a great day", little things like that, right? So I started doing that. I do it more through text than voice memos. I need to get better at that. But imagine receiving that from somebody you may not have talked to in years saying they're thinking about you. And the text messages that I send out are very, very well received and it makes you feel good as well.

Best Ever listeners, another thing that I started doing was sending out a newsletter roughly once a quarter and it goes to everybody that I've probably ever emailed in the last 10 years. So people, again, that I haven't connected with in a number of years will receive this newsletter and all of a sudden rekindle that connection. And the first time I did that, it was days and days that I was returning phone calls, people are, "Hey, great to hear from you. Give me a call. Let's catch up." So that was really cool. And it was nice to see that people, again, that you think you've lost touch with still want to reconnect.

So that quarterly newsletter, I think is a great idea. I include some personal milestones, business milestones, and if there's a deal, I'll throw it in there as well, but it's more just, "Here I am, wanting to connect with you." There's always an offer to help somebody else or advice from mistakes that I've made or things that I've learned, but Travis just gave me the idea that I should have known. I should put my social media stuff on that newsletter. That's stupid.

Lesson learned. See, I'm still a work in progress. Any final thoughts on our two episodes of networking, following up, keeping track of people, adding value. Slocomb, we'll start with you.

Slocomb Reed: Gary Keller, who is primarily writing and speaking for residential real estate agents looking to build a real estate business, that being said, his book, The One Thing, transcends industry in its ability to add value to people who are doing business. He talks a lot about mind share. He says that every person, every potential client of a real estate agent only has so much space in their head to be thinking about any individual real estate agent that they would work with in the future. So he talks about having a system for capturing the mind share of your clients and potential clients. That sounds kind of sci-fi-ish the way that I said it right there, but he talks about follow up in terms of staying top of mind with your people so that when they have a need that you can meet, you are the person that they call. I find that to be a valuable way to think about networking and to think about having a system for follow-ups, but also as a reminder that I don't have to ask all the time, so long as I'm keeping top of mind and presenting value to my people, I just need to be the first person they think of when they have a need or they know someone with a need that I can meet.

Ash Patel: Slocomb, thank you for that. Travis, final thoughts on two weeks of networking.

Travis Watts: I think it all comes down to know, like, and trust. That's how people do business with others, right? So how does someone get to know, like, and trust you? Well, you have to share your stories, your insights, your blogs, your material, your articles, your podcasts, just everything. And you guys are doing it great too by interviewing so many people and showing transparency that way. But here's something to keep in mind. My best ever advice is do it all in the beginning and see what works and what doesn't for you. Again, you do you, you figure it out. So I'll give you an example that's practical. We talked about, "Hey, follow me on social media. Let's connect." Well, someone like my dad who's an active and a passive investor is 70 years old. I could tell him all day, connect on Instagram. He's never going to do it. He's not on Instagram. He doesn't want to be on Instagram. He's also not on LinkedIn, which is my best social media platform that I found most effective, but I will never, never, never reach him on those platforms.

So to your point, Ash, Ashcroft started doing a monthly newsletter physically, hard printed and mailed out called The Monthly Distribution. He loves it. He reads it every time. He's always making phone calls to follow up with me on stuff like that. So that's how we reach that type of client. A lot of accredited investors are older people in general, so Instagram's not always going to work. So instead of putting all your time and effort and energy towards something like that or YouTube, try other platforms. And the best advice I ever received is double down on what's working. So you got to look at your business. A realtor is much different in terms of the clientele they're trying to seek out than someone like myself, investor relations at Ashcroft Capital working with only accredited investors. So you just got to figure out what works best for you. You guys have given some great advice and great tips, but make bullet points on what you think might work and see what sticks.

Ash Patel: Travis, thank you for that. My opinion is your network is your net worth. And a question that I ask interviewees often is if you lost everything, what would you do to get back on your feet? And really the answer is, as long as you have the knowledge and the network, you can do anything. So for the Best Ever listeners out there that maybe aren't comfortable going to a meet-up, a conference, or starting a poker game, or doing a coffee, put yourself out there. Do it once. If you're already doing it, find people that are doing it better and learn from them, but just keep networking. It's really one of the key successes to growing your business.

Gentlemen, I've always enjoyed these conversations. We have such different backgrounds and we bring so much different perspective to these conversations. So thank you again for your time today.

Travis Watts: Thanks, Ash. Thanks, Slocomb.

Outro: [00:29:36] to [00:29:52]

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