Commercial Magazine

Go Back to the Basics

Bolster your lead-referral pipeline through traditional networking

By Lukas Bull

The digital age has brought a host of new tools to market a business and generate leads. Although technology-driven methods of generating business can be effective, there’s an alarming trend among new and seasoned commercial mortgage brokers. Increasingly in today’s market, brokers have stopped networking and are relying on customers to find them.

In a sense, commercial mortgage brokers are forgetting the basics of networking in favor of expensive online advertising platforms that are designed to bring in clients. The good news is there are many inexpensive and effective ways to network with referral partners and identify new leads.

Networking groups

Start with the local chamber of commerce, which is usually the primary networking hub of any town, city or region. By joining your local chamber, you have the opportunity to not only advocate for the small-business community, but you will meet many of the business owners and decisionmakers in the community — in other words, the people who are the most likely to become your future referral partners.

Joining your local chamber of commerce comes with other benefits as well, such as the group’s membership directory that contains e-mail addresses and phone numbers. You also can potentially link your company’s webpage to the chamber’s site, thereby improving your website’s search engine optimization to rank higher in Google searches.

The only downside to joining your local chamber is the annual membership fee. The cost, however, is relatively low given the earning potential and upside of membership. One closed deal could offset this fee for more than five years.

Real estate investment clubs are another option. The members are often investors, fix-and-flippers, and other small-business owners who are looking to expand their investment portfolio. Real estate investment clubs present ample opportunities for mortgage brokers to promote loan products to people who want to expand their real estate portfolio and will need financing to do it.

Memberships in real investment clubs also come with perks. The clubs often have an education program. Most clubs bring in guest speakers who will touch upon numerous facets of commercial real estate. This can not only keep you informed on what is going on in the marketplace, but it offers insights into the psychology of the investor. It can clue you into how to sell your next letter of intent to a prospective client. As with joining your local chamber of commerce, the only downside is the membership cost.

Another basic way to network is online. If you don’t have a fully optimized LinkedIn profile, you are already behind the curve when it comes to social media marketing, establishing your brand and sourcing additional leads. One underappreciated feature of LinkedIn is LinkedIn Groups.

LinkedIn Groups are hubs of like-minded professionals where you can market your company, build your referral network, and establish your brand in the industry through meaningful conversations and relevant posts. Remaining active within your LinkedIn Groups helps you connect and build authentic relationships with a target audience of commercial real estate professionals. Some mortgage brokers, however, make the mistake of using these groups as a channel to blast advertisements, rather than contributing interesting content and offering valuable insights to the other members. Once you’ve begun to build rapport and credibility within the group, then you can start using the channel for advertising and sharing your company’s purpose. The best part about this tool is that it is free.

All commercial real estate originators should be members of three specific Linkedin Groups. The first is Pete Asmus’ Real Estate Networking Group, whose members include commercial real estate professionals in a wide range of asset niches, including condominiums, hotels, self-storage facilities and homebuilding.

The second must-join group is the Commercial Real Estate Referral Network, which is specifically set up for commercial loan officers and appraisers to market their products and services to commercial Realtors. Third, there is the Building Owners and Managers

Association (BOMA) International, which has been a leading trade association for commercial real estate professionals for more than 100 years. Here you will find a network of owners, managers and service providers for all commercial property types.

If you don’t have a fully optimized LinkedIn profile, you are already behind the curve when it comes to social media marketing, establishing your brand and sourcing additional leads.

Meeting up

You also shouldn’t forget one tried-and-true rule of networking: Never eat alone. Your network consists of mutual friends, LinkedIn contacts and the professionals that you’ve met through chamber of commerce events. Whether you’re going for a morning cup of coffee, lunch or a midday snack, you should use this time to meet with potential referral partners, clients and mentors.

For the cost of few dollars and some time, these meetings can be priceless. You’ll make friends, and build credibility and rapport through this personal contact. A quick cup of coffee can potentially lead to a referral. The same goes for clients you’ve worked with in the past. Taking a past client out to lunch is one way to keep in touch. It also will help cement the relationship and build a network of repeat customers.

In today’s digital age, it is true that you have many more options in sourcing new deals through Google Ads and other online advertising platforms, but these also come with high costs. By using the above-mentioned networking methods, you can expand your referral base and become less dependent on fee-based platforms.

For commercial mortgage brokers and lenders alike, breaking away from digital marketing campaigns and returning to more traditional marketing efforts can be both lucrative and effective when done correctly. You will not only expand your reach, you’ll also build a holistic marketing strategy.

Leads aren’t always going to find you. You need to source new clients on your own, build your referral network and grow your business.


  • Lukas Bull

    Lukas Bull is a credit analyst with Prime Commercial Lending, located in Albany, New York. He works with an ever-growing network of brokers to advise and facilitate the transaction of permanent commercial mortgages ranging from $100,000 to $5 million, with unique programs for both investors and business owners.

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