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11 Tips and Tricks To Start Building A Bigger Better Referral Network Today

Carla Ayers7 minute-read
October 24, 2022

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Real estate is a relationship business, and it takes time to nurture an authentic network that supports your real estate endeavors. Along with the day-to-day responsibilities of practicing real estate, you’ve also got to have a plan in place for steady long-term growth in your business. To do that, you must work on building a referral network that works for you.

If you don’t have a plan in place to keep growing your referral network, don’t panic. We’ve got eleven tips to help you kick start your referral business below.

1. Provide The Best Possible Customer Service

The foundation of a successful referral network is customer service. People want to refer professionals who will “wow” their family, friends, and colleagues. Going above and beyond to provide an exceptional experience is the most affordable marketing tool you can leverage in your business right now. Be authentic, honest, answer your phone, and do what you say you’re going to do. If you’re already doing this, you’re well on your way to building a reputation as the go to professional in your trade area.

Be intentional with your personal development and ask other successful real estate agents what they’re reading and what podcasts they’re listening to. Being up to date on industry changes and market shifts will help you better serve your clients when anticipating their next move.

Not every conversation will be easy, but those are the interactions clients will remember. If you know your client will be waiting by the phone to hear if their offer has been accepted on a house, don’t wait to break the news the next day that their offer was rejected. Call them as soon as professionally possible and use the conversation to express your sense of urgency and dedication to getting their home search back on track.

2. Leverage Your Existing Network To Make Connections

Referral networks are a two-way street. To start getting more referrals, try giving more referrals. To reach a larger audience, your network will need to consist of more than real estate professionals, friends and family. Real estate agents are sometimes the first point of contact for people relocating from another area. Get to know the resources and professionals in your trade area that your future clients might need.

Go the extra mile and write down local municipal office contacts, health care providers, organizers, therapists, tutors, car mechanics, landscapers, bakers, etc. Reach out to your friends and family for their recommendations for referral worthy businesses and service providers (it’s also a good time to remind them you’re in real estate).

Once you’ve got a full list, call those professionals, and let them know they were referred to you as a great community resource and you’d like to add them to a list you give your clients. Ask them about what they do and anything that sets them apart from their competition so you can do a better job of referring their services. This is great way to build rapport with a new connection and identify their niche.

To take it a step further, consider printing the list and mailing it to your referral network so they see their name in print and know you’re serious about referrals. They too can take advantage your list of resources, creating another layer of potential referrals for you. Update the list annually with new vendors, resources, and a community calendar. An annual community calendar of events will likely get put on the fridge and kept up year-round, keeping you and your network top of mind.

3. Follow Up

Picking up your phone is one of the easiest and most affordable ways to build your business in real estate. Following up or reaching out to your network can fall by the wayside when you’re busy with a complicated transaction. Remember, the average phone conversation is typically less than 2 minutes, but the interaction leaves a lasting impression on those you’re working with. Every time you touch base with someone in your referral network, you have an opportunity to build trust. So be intentional with your communication and block off time to follow up and be an active listener.

4. Keep Track Of Your Connections

If you want to grow your referral network, you can’t rely on accidental referrals alone. Develop a system to keep track of who you’re referring and who is referring to you. Understanding where referrals are coming from will help you focus your energy on those sources when following up and checking in with your network.

Those who refer you often are like unpaid brand partners, and they should know how much you appreciate their support and trust. When you call to check in, take time to see what’s really happening in their world. It never hurts to ask about ways you can help promote their business. This lets them know you’re open to cross-promotion, and you want to see their business thrive as well. Being strategic in your efforts while nurturing relationships along the way will keep your lead pipeline full.

5. Get Social

Social media is an incredible way to connect with others professionally. You don’t have to learn the latest dance trend to get attention. People want to work with a knowledgeable professional they can trust, and social media is a great way to flex your expertise. If you’re not comfortable in front of the camera, share content that resonates with your brand and how you do business. Become the local expert in your niche and share your knowledge with the public through a blog or posts relevant to your business. There is no right or wrong way to approach social media, so be yourself and just get started.

6. Give Out Those Business Cards

Don’t let that box of business cards collect dust. Get in the habit of always having a few business cards with you so you never miss a chance to connect with someone new. Business cards are a great physical reminder of your business and the interaction you’ve had with a potential client or referral partner. Happy clients love to refer, so make sure they have extra business cards on hand to do so. When you’ve had a successful closing, give your clients a few of your business cards in a thank you note and let them know you appreciate referrals and their business. Business cards are one of the most affordable marketing tools you can use to get more leads with less effort.

7. Teach People How To Refer You

Instead of asking for a referral, show your sphere how to refer to you. Send an email to your database letting them know all the ways they can contact you. Include links to your web site and social media profiles. Consider including a link to a video where you talk about the referral process and how easy it is to refer. This is a great way to express your sincerity and reassure your sphere that their referrals are important to you, and you’re committed to providing the best service.

8. Review Your Referral Network

If you’ve ever received a great review, you know how good it feels when someone trusts you to help them, and they end up happy with the outcome. You can do the same for others outside of real estate. When you’ve had a great experience, leave that business or service a review. For example, say you use a certain bakery for open house treats because they have the best red velvet cupcakes. Take a pic and give them a shout-out on social media. Not only will your baker feel good, but it’s the first step in creating a potential referral relationship.

9. Become An Expert In Your Niche

Being an expert source of knowledge is a great way to expand your sphere of influence because people will begin to look to you for guidance in your area of expertise. If you have a special interest in real estate, make an honest effort to learn more about it. A great place to start is your local board of real estate. Real estate continuing education courses will help you explore different real estate sectors in-depth with professionals who have real world experience.

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) and its affiliates offer a wide range of certifications and designations that can help you sharpen your skills. Designations let the public know you’ve gone through additional training and education in that discipline, and you can confidently perform your duties.

For example, Terry is passionate about helping Veterans take advantage of all of their military benefits. So Terry obtained a Military Relocation Professional (MRP) designation. They learned what type of military benefits are available to service members and the challenges service men and -women face when relocating. Terry is included in a database of real estate agents who have an MRP designation and can give and receive referrals through a private network.

10. Attend And Host Professional Events

Professionals want to refer to other professionals they know, like and trust. To get to know more people, try searching for local professional meetups or networking events in your community. Check your local library, chamber of commerce and community center calendars for events you can attend online and in person. You’ll learn more about the community while expanding your sphere of influence connecting with others.

If you love to throw a party, organize your own professional meetups. Hosting meetups is a great way to get to know all the attendees and encourage networking within your sphere. In-person events like a casual after work cocktail hour is a great way to mingle with business-minded people and increase your reach in the community.

If you have a physical office, invite past clients, current pipeline leads, and referral partners to stop by a for a complimentary coffee and doughnut as a fun way to brighten their day. A client appreciation event is a great way to say thank you in a big way. If you work from home, consider co-branding a coffee hour with a local coffee shop. Anyone who stops in with your coupon code gets a coffee on you. A small gesture, like a cup of coffee or a cookie, can go a long way when your network knows you appreciate them.

11. Join A Real Estate Agent Referral Network

A real estate referral network is a group of real estate agents who refer to one another with in the referral group. This type of referral network typically exists online and caters to a specific niche. For example, Taylor is an expert when it comes to resort and vacation homes, they obtained a Resort and Second Home Property Specialist (RSPS) designation, and they have access to an invite-only networking group only available to those with the RSPS designation. Taylor receives leads from other members when they have a client who is looking for a vacation or second home in their trade area.

Some groups are free to join and allow real estate agents to set their own referral fees and are hands-off in the transaction, while paid networks charge a monthly subscription to be a part of their network. The subscription fee covers services like lead matching, referral landing pages, administrative and technical support. These large referral networks are a great place to make connections with real estate agents in other parts of the country. And in real estate, every connection counts.

Carla Ayers

Carla is a Realtor® with a background in commercial and residential property management, leasing  and arts management. She has a Bachelors in Arts Marketing and Masters in Integrated Marketing & Communications from Eastern Michigan University.