Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Building your referral network

Q: I’m new, and I have lots of energy. How can I focus my efforts to establish a network of sales leads?

A: Here’s how five Florida sales associates became the go-to professionals for real estate needs:

Host events:
Position yourself as a leader and a generous contributor who brings everything together.

To jump start her career, LaShawn Norden in Lake Mary orchestrated parties and events for her top 100 clients so that she could network with them consistently. “They already have had a good experience with me. Why cold market when you don’t have to?” she says.

Norden targeted most events to women because, she says, “They typically decide the house.” Activities included pottery and jewelry making, progressive dinner parties and wine tastings.

She also invited her top 100 clients, including spouses and children, to an annual client appreciation event at Wet ’n’ Wild Water World. She paid for parking, admission, lunch, and drinks for the day, plus a half-price discount for admission in the future.

Warm up to walled-off groups:
Sarasota has a huge retirement community. So when Matt Orr moved there in 2002, he found the age span between himself and his potential clients burdensome. In short order, he discovered a local young professionals group.

Their goal is to get involved in the community. Some, like Orr, are board members for nonprofit organizations and government entities. All members are required to do a minimum of five hours of community service per year. This introduces them to formerly unattainable clients, Orr says. He adds that 95 percent of his business comes from his community involvement.

Mingle with peers:
The only people Richard De Ceglie knew when he moved to Palm Coast were his parents. De Ceglie decided to use other sales associates as his primary networking tool. He developed his business around the seller market. As a result, sales associates who were representing buyers weren’t his competition anymore.

“I treated them, in my mind, as my best employees. I’d look up their mailing addresses and send them my listings. Then I’d ask them to send me theirs so that we could establish a networking system,” he says.

Show that you care:
St. Augustine is a small town whose residents are close-knit, says Peggy Gachet, a Watson Realty sales associate. In 1992, when she first arrived in town, she met a financial planner who was “extraordinarily involved” in the community. “She sat me down and said, ‘What do you plan to do? I [will] tell you that you’ll only be successful if you get out and show people that you care,’” Gachet recalls.

She got involved with Communities in Schools—a nonprofit that works with at-risk children and champions community involvement in schools. Group members help with after-school programs such as tutoring and reading programs.

She estimates that 80 percent of her sales come from networking with people in the group and with other charitable organizations.

One caveat: Don’t volunteer solely to generate business, because people will see through your motive and resent it, Gachet says.

Capitalize on family networks:
Your current clients have a host of family members, says Cyndi Andrews. More often than not, they rely heavily on each other for business recommendations.

Andrews received referrals that started with one buyer. “Once you have trust from one or two family members, they will not hesitate to use you as a [sales associate] and recommend you to everyone else in the family,” Andrews says.

Meet the experts:
LaShawn Norden is a sales associate with Keller Williams Heritage Realty in Lake Mary; Richard De Ceglie is a sales associate with Watson Realty Corp. in Palm Coast; Peggy Gachet is a sales associate with Watson Realty Corp. in St. Augustine.

Posted www.miamiforrussian.com and www.miamiforrussian.ru

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