Maintaining connections is important as your business often depends on the quality of those relationships. But that is why you should not neglect strangers and acquaintances.
Ask seasoned real estate agents how they’ve managed to get new business over the years and the chances are slim they’ll mention Google Ads, sponsored tweets, or door flyers.
While these promotional materials often have a place in an agent’s marketing mix, network acumen – in the sense of knowing how to build and maintain a network of people who are able to refer to new business – always becomes the most important part of yours Growth its potential.
There are more bad ways to network than good. Nobody wants to receive a LinkedIn invite from a real estate agent just because they seem to have a lot of mutual contacts. Perhaps the most important networking tip is to get the right audience in the first place.
The limits of strong bonds
In fact, the most common mistake in building a professional network is that people too often focus on their “strong bonds”, which are typically their family, co-workers, and close friends.
These people already know well enough what business you are in. When they meet someone who might be of value to you, they will let you know. You don’t meet that many new people, however, and that’s mainly because they network with each other.
Your sister visits your brother and the three of you meet your best friend for a drink in town every other week. Not much fresh blood comes into such a network.
It can look completely different, however, if you also take “weak ties” into account. In 1973 Stanford sociology professor Mark Granovetter published a seminal paper on The strength of weak bonds. Granovetter investigated whether the strength of a tie had an impact on job search.
Through his research, he found that people with whom you have weak ties (we call them “acquaintances” in everyday jargon) are of great value when looking for a job because they are bridges to other networks. Such networks offer new and unique information and, in this case, employment opportunities.
In other words, the study found that people who only consult the people with whom they have strong ties were not as successful in finding a job as those who also used their weak ties.
Exploring weak bonds
What Granovetter found also applies to business referrals, whether you’re a lawyer, advisor, or real estate agent. The laws of social networks – as Granovetter and many others have studied over the past few decades – still apply and show their worth.
Well, who would normally identify a real estate agent’s “weak ties”? Everyone has a different story and therefore a different network. However, we do know that your weak ties are most likely found by:
- People you went to college with.
- People with whom you have attended courses (e.g. to obtain accreditation).
- Former colleagues.
- The parents of the children who are in school with their children.
- Your neighbours.
- Member of a non-profit organization where you volunteer.
It is important that you let your weak ties know what you are doing so they can recommend people on their networks when opportunities arise. Tell them who your ideal lead is.
Of course, as I said earlier, you shouldn’t get down to business too soon, but take the time to build relationships. You need to “prepay” it and add value to the weak links on your network.
This can be done through counseling without ever needing a reason as to how you make a living. If they like you, they’ll ask you, I promise.
It is important to continue to maintain relationships with your strong bonds – your deep connections – as your well-being often depends on the quality of those relationships. However, if you want referrals anytime in the future, your weak ties will help.
By maintaining valuable relationships with your weak ties, you are building a network of networks that will provide you with valuable long-term growth opportunities.
Connie Czarnecki is a land realtor with National Land Realty in Wyoming. Connect with her on LinkedIn.