The phrase, “It’s all about who you know,” proves true for the mortgage and real estate industries. When your network gains breadth and depth, loan applications tend to steadily increase.
So, if you want to expand your client base, networking can be your entrée. Luckily, it’s not actually who you know that matters — it’s who you’ll get to know as you work toward your professional goals that will make the difference.
Build a pipeline
Networking relies on the ability to find the right people to connect with. As a mortgage professional, focus on two channels of contacts: real estate agents and potential clients. With a strong system of agent referral partners and a robust pipeline of potential clients, business is likely to grow.
In order to grow your existing real estate agent network, consider attending conferences where you can mix and mingle with agents. Real estate conferences act as a consolidated venue for potential referral partners. To network with potential clients directly, consider attending and networking at homebuyer education events.
Then again, something as simple as a book club or cooking class can sometimes provide the connection that will ultimately lead to closing a home loan. What networking really comes down to is making genuine connections with others — regardless of whether they may have something to offer you in the moment.
Even as you aim to grow your network, make sure you maintain relationships with previous and existing connections. Many ambitious professionals focus solely on acquiring new contacts in their efforts to expand industry associations.
You don’t want to neglect your previous contacts. You never know who might make it big in real estate, who may be in need of a home loan or who you may be able to assist along the way. To be sure, a refinance or home purchase could come at any time for any past acquaintances. This means that staying top of mind, all the time, is essential.
The key to connecting long term is to reach out frequently and authentically. To this end, consider sending holiday cards. When it comes time to seek mortgage assistance, these contacts might just be looking at your smiling face.
Prepare in advance
Before attending an event, prepare what you’ll discuss. When greeting an interesting contact, the goal is to get “belly to belly” in order to develop a relationship that’s mutually beneficial. To do so, study up on the industry these future comrades are likely in.
If you’re headed to a real estate convention, do some research on the latest news in housing and current industry pain points. Know about some industry wins and promising tech within the sector. The more you know about, the more you’ll be able to speak their language, making for an intelligent and interesting discussion.
In any conversation with a new contact, remember to lead with questions. People love to talk about themselves, so capitalize on that. An important skill in a conversation is to maintain eye contact. And always seal the conversation with a firm handshake.
Another trick of the trade is to add a quick note in your phone with the person’s name and a couple of specific details about them — once the contact is out of sight, of course. Next time you see them (or contact them), they’ll be impressed when you ask how their vacation to Hawaii was, how their son is enjoying his new role in human resources or how their staff welcomed a new technology application upon rollout. These moves will demonstrate your intelligence, focus and care.
Networking is a function of reciprocity. If there’s a way to help a contact or someone they care about, do it.
It’s natural to feel some anxiety at networking functions. It’s also possible to overcome this normal hesitancy while attending these events. Start by setting small networking goals for each event. These might include speaking with two new people per event or having just one quality conversation with a stranger in the field.
Ensure preparedness with talking points that are crafted for the people you expect to meet. If you suspect the group will consist of sports enthusiasts, brush up on recent sporting events. If you’re headed to a sustainable-home conference, be ready to discuss timely developments in green-building legislation.
Ask potential contacts what brings them to the event, then continue to ask open-ended questions (have some ready beforehand). Consider bringing a “wing” person to help. Chatting comfortably with someone can make you seem like you’re having more fun and open the door for others to talk to you. Just be sure you don’t appear cliquey.
Have an elevator pitch ready. This should convey something interesting about you as a mortgage professional. The 30-second pitch also should hint at the unique value you can offer the real estate agent or potential client. Employ this elevator pitch when the polite questioning eventually turns to you.
With new contacts in hand, plan to foster relationships over time for a continually expanding professional network. Find authentic reasons to reach out and provide value anytime you can. If an agent or potential client is celebrating a birthday or milestone, send a card. If you’ll be near their office on a normal weekday, offer to meet them for coffee or lunch.
Better yet, find ways to support the marketing efforts of your real estate agent acquaintances. Consider hosting marketing events or open houses for real estate agents to strengthen these existing connections, and to hobnob with even more potential referral partners. Networking is a function of reciprocity. If there’s a way to help a contact or someone they care about, do it.
In a digital age where LinkedIn has become almost synonymous with networking, making a personal connection with someone can be invaluable. Utilizing good, old-fashioned networking techniques allows contacts to put a name to a face, place a personality with a home loan and can distinguish you from the rest.
Many of the most successful mortgage professionals built their business on best practices in networking. By channeling your ambition into networking and client nurturing, you can become one of the best in the business, too.