• Use SMART goals to develop your real estate networking strategy.
  • Attend local events and join real estate associations to grow your network.
  • Look for opportunities to build relationships with fellow agents.
  • Establish an online presence through your website, social media, and virtual events.
  • Track your progress and reevaluate your approach as needed to improve your networking results.

Networking is a proven best practice during any career inflection. It’s a powerful way to learn, expand your horizons, and create possibilities. 2023 and 2024 were two of the slowest years for home sales in many markets,[1] which makes it more important than ever to get out and start networking. Or, if you are looking to expand your business, enhancing your networking strategies might be an important strategic lever for your continued growth. If you want to grow your business, networking might be your answer.

Networking is not magic. It’s both an ongoing activity and a skill that can be learned and perfected. With the right mindset, you can leverage and grow your existing business. Here are six important steps to understanding the value of your networking efforts and how to network as an agent for ongoing success.

Developing a Real Estate Networking Strategy

The first step is to create your strategy. What kind of agent and person are you? Are you extroverted and prefer face-to-face networking options? Are you a social media guru and can navigate platforms easily? What kind of networking are you doing already, and what are the opportunities to expand your reach? These are key questions, and as you read further, consider writing down your strategy with clear objectives that build accountability for your goals.

Defining Your Networking Goals and Objectives

After defining your broad strategy, break it into smaller SMART goals — Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Sensitive. For example, “Go to more local events” is too broad. Instead, the goal might read, “Attend my community diversity fair, bring business cards and pamphlets, and talk to at least ten vendors or attendees.”

How to Get Started

Networking as a real estate professional can sometimes be the hardest step. But don’t worry, there is no right or wrong way. Often, networking is trial and error. But the important step is the first one. Read on for some helpful directions you can take to begin.

1. Leverage Local Events and Social Gatherings

Not ready to jump into the fray of large events? Then start small. Whether you attend large events or small ones keep your focus on quality, not quantity. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the abundance of information at conferences. Rather than trying to implement everything at once, focus on a few key takeaways that resonate with your business and objectives. Quality actions yield better results than scattered efforts. After any event, make a list of 3-5 takeaways and build SMART goals that are achievable and keep you focused.

Often, small events are both an opportunity to connect and meet potential clients and a great way to meet other agents. It’s not uncommon for real estate agents to set up a booth at a local farmer’s market or community fair.

By making a personal connection with the agents who have booths at local events, you can meet the agents who might be on the other side of that contract and build a relationship for future business you might do together in your community.

You can use the time to ask them how a presence at such events works for them, talk about local market dynamics, share stories--good and not-so-good--about recent transactions, or talk about new projects you both see taking place in your community.

Events like these are also a great opportunity to ask questions such as, “My favorite electrician just left the business. Who are you referring people to?” or, “I have a great roofer that my clients love. Would you be interested in building out your referral base?”

Form a partnership that allows for equal exchange of value. Not only will it pay off for you, but your deepening, local connections might help you land the next client as well.

2. The Importance of Joining Real Estate Associations

Professional organizations often provide a wealth of connections, and there are organizations of every size and scale to suit your needs. Local organizations have a smaller scope and reach, but the connections might be more rewarding and longer-lasting. While they might have few resources or prestige, they may also have greater community involvement and advocacy. National organizations are excellent for their reach, benefits, and scope but might prove less relevant to your area or more expensive to join.

One suggestion is to join a combination of both, so you access both a deep and wide range of opportunities. Some possible options are: 

  • Toastmasters: Joining Toastmasters can help you network with other agents and members of your community looking to hone communication skills and build confidence.[2]
  • Real Estate Roundtable: If influencing government policy towards the real estate industry is a passion, consider joining the Real Estate Roundtable. That involves you with 3 million other real estate professionals in discussions on political decisions and economics for the industry’s greater good.[3]
  • National Association of REALTORS® (NAR): The National Association of REALTORS® is a nationwide organization with branches in each state.[4] Not all agents are required to join NAR but the organization provides access to an extensive selection of events as well as continuing education.

3. Building Relationships with Fellow Agents

Now is the best time for you as an agent to start building relationships with other agents. Why? While you might be heavily focused on cold calling and following up on leads, one of the best ways to build a pipeline is to build new relationships with other agents in your market and beyond. There are a few good reasons to do this:

  • Agents might have clients with whom they can’t or won’t work and need a referral source.
  • By talking with other agents, you can build a robust set of referrals including lenders, escrow companies, stagers, inspectors, contractors and more.
  • Agents who view you positively will be more enthusiastic about collaborating with you on any future deals.
  • When agents eventually leave the profession, they offer to sell you their client list.

It’s important to consider other agents as partners, not adversaries. That makes networking one of the most important tasks of a successful agent. You can establish meaningful relationships by attending or participating in local and industry events, joining professional associations, and participating in online communities. In turn, those efforts might result in leads, build knowledge, expand your reach, and help you be seen as a powerful subject-matter expert.

By developing your skills through events and education aligned with your passions or professional development, you enjoy greater confidence and know-how with your clients. This leads to added credibility and potentially increased referrals from those clients.

4. Establishing Partnerships with Local Businesses and Contractors

Local businesses and vendors are a great source of business and an excellent way to build a pipeline of customers. At the same time, it allows you to cultivate a list of service providers that will prove valuable to your clients.

Why? First, local business owners are often homeowners, too. When you visit local businesses, bring a gift along with your business card and offer to exchange referrals. Your clients who are new to the area may rely on you to provide a wealth of information about local businesses, such as where to shop, dine, and find services.

Second, future home sellers may be considering a home equity line of credit to help finance some short-term home improvement projects. Getting to know local contractors and vendors will allow you to make quick and trusted referrals to your clients. Consider offering to interview businesses about their products and services, then host that interview on your blog, website, or social media platform. When you genuinely show interest in and care about your community, your community members may, in exchange, consider you their agent of choice.

Additionally, agents should try to partner with lenders that offer a wide variety of programs that could match the different needs of their customers. For example, seek relationships with local lending partners who offer a wide variety of loan programs such as government, conventional, and portfolio loans. Also, some lenders such as PNC offer specialized loans such as medical profession loans and downpayment assistance/closing cost assistance through PNC Grant programs. When you work with lender partners with deep, specialized loan knowledge and programs, you’ll be better prepared to advise your clients on their many options.

5. The Importance of an Online Presence

Any successful real estate agent must have a big and visible web presence. You are probably already using the web to announce new listings or to host your personal website. However, there is much more value to be gained from optimizing your online presence. Make sure your messaging is current, relevant, and engaging to multiple audiences. You don’t have to be a web guru to make this happen — you can outsource, after all -- but it’s imperative to networking success that your online presence be top-notch.

Harnessing the Power of Social Media

Time is money, and it’s often difficult to juggle all the many activities needed to be a successful agent. Luckily, there are many excellent options for engaging with your agent community from the convenience of your computer.

Facebook, for example, hosts several large real estate communities, such as Real Estate Mastermind.[5] Nearly 300,000 real estate professionals engage daily on questions, problem-solving, and recent topics such as lawsuits, contract changes and differences, and more. In some cases, there are sub-groups of Real Estate Mastermind for targeted geographies.

Another Facebook group to consider joining is Labcoat Agents, whose 150,000+ members focus on lead generation tips, tricks, and discussion.[6] In both these groups and many more, agents from other states and cities often have clients they need to refer to an agent in another city. These are excellent opportunities to gain clients and build a network of relationships with agents across the country.

Optimizing Your Real Estate Website for Networking

Has your website been stagnant for years? Now is the time to consider an overhaul. First, your website needs a long-form blog that generates traffic. According to LinkedIn, businesses with blogs increase traffic by 67%.[7]

Also, publish fresh content weekly that includes images and video. If using or learning tools such as WordPress gives you anxiety, invest in outsourcing solutions. Weekly, brainstorm topics of interest to your target audience. Whether you build out your site yourself or someone else does on your behalf, the important thing is pushing content to engage with your audience.

Virtual Networking Events

It’s not always possible to attend in-person events, so build virtual events into your strategic plan. Meetup offers both in-person and online networking opportunities.[8]

Another useful source of online events is Eventbrite. Eventbrite hosts events locally and around the world.[9] Many options are free, and others cost a nominal amount to attend.

You may find other virtual events on platforms such as Facebook Events. Utilizing these options can connect you to topics you are most passionate about. You will meet industry professionals from a wide variety of geographies. Use these sources to build a network of real estate professionals for future referrals.

Finally, your own open houses can be virtual networking events. By hosting virtual open houses, you can invite possible buyers from a larger pool and also connect with agents in other markets who may bring buyers to your home. Capture any leads from virtual open houses the way you would with an in-person open.

6. Evaluating and Rethinking Your Networking Approach

As with any goal, measuring your progress and success is critical. Visually track your progress against your strategy and goals with specifics and numbers. Ask key questions such as:

  • Did the event or task add value?
  • Are you gaining a larger network?
  • How many people did you meet?
  • Did you capture those contacts in your CRM or other tools?
  • Is the blog creating engagement?
  • What metrics are you tracking?
  • Have you gained more businesses and professionals to trade knowledge and referrals?
  • When attending events or engaging with the community, ask yourself: What do I want from this event or connection? How will I follow up?

If a method isn’t yielding a bigger network or base of future clients or vendors, ask why. Is there something you could be doing differently? Have you engaged enough? Or, perhaps a particular event is not the best use of your time. Revisit your goals quarterly and adjust them. Spend more time in activities that gain better yield and adjust gals to reflect better directions.

Continuing to Grow Your Real Estate Network

Hopefully, these six steps will help you see how easy it is to grow your network. Building a network isn’t a one-time event but a continuous process. Further, networks are dynamic and ever-changing, so it’s vital you stay connected in an ongoing way to ensure you are staying current, relevant, and top-of-mind.

Every real estate professional needs to build and maintain a network for their ongoing success. Learn from others what is working for them and build those opportunities into your short- and long-term goals. Continue to measure your success by blocking time each week to evaluate what is working. Are you gaining clients? Are you increasing your knowledge? Do you have more connections?

Most importantly, are you growing your business? Think of networking as just one of the many focus areas a successful agent must focus on year-round to build long-term success.