10 Guidelines for Growing Your Referral Network

happy couple signing on a house

Lead generation makes up a huge part of each day for most real estate agents. Many swear by cold calling or door knocking or spend money on paid advertising to ensure a steady flow of new clients. However, these cold leads take more time to convince and convert, and some of them never pan out at all. Instead of spending hours on the phone, follow these guidelines for growing your referral network and you’ll find warm leads beating a path to your door.

1. Set expectations for the process.

One of the ways you can set yourself apart from other agents is by communicating clearly and effectively, especially with inexperienced or first-time homebuyers or sellers. Describing what to expect throughout the process in a brochure, listing or buyer presentation, or in a series of emails or videos, can demystify the process and help clients feel more secure in the decisions they make.

2. Practice total honesty.

Whether it’s with clients, vendors, or other agents and brokers in your market, misrepresenting the facts will always come back to bite you and damage your reputation. By telling the truth—even when it’s uncomfortable or unprofitable—you’ll develop a reputation as the most trustworthy professional in your local market.

3. Prioritize clients above commission.

Treat the client who’s looking for a small starter home the same way you’d treat a luxury homebuyer. Help clients make decisions based on what’s best for them, not based on how big your commission will be. As a real estate agent, you have a fiduciary duty to put your client’s interest before your own. Take that duty seriously.

4. Remember special occasions or milestones.

At some point, as you’re working with clients, learn their birthdates, anniversary, and their children’s years in school. Enter this information in your (customer relationship management) CRM and make sure you revisit it often. Drop them a card for their birthday or anniversary. Congratulate the children when they graduate from school. By becoming part of these special days, you can become their real estate agent for life—and the one they recommend to their friends and neighbors.

5. Engage with former clients on social media.

By connecting as a friend or follower on social media, you can stay abreast of what’s going on in your clients’ lives. A new baby or a promotion may mean it’s time to reach out about moving to a larger home. Retirement may mean it’s time to downsize. A child’s college graduation may mean they need to start thinking about a first home purchase. Take an interest in the things they share, and you can become an important part of their lives.

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6. Host client appreciation events.

Happy hour at a local neighborhood pub, a springtime brunch, or a summer barbecue—all of these are simple and affordable opportunities to invite some valued clients to connect more deeply. Is there a huge blockbuster film coming out? Buy a block of tickets and offer to treat your favorite families to an opening night screening.

real estate agent showing house to clients

7. Show you care.

Sincerity is the most important part of creating a meaningful client relationship. You can host events and send cards, but if you don’t do it with a sense of gratitude and joy, it will feel like an empty gesture. Look for opportunities to offer true service or kindness; surprise and delight your clients. Treat them how you’d want to be treated and you can’t go wrong.

8. Contribute to your community.

Find ways to serve your community and the people you share it with. Volunteer at the local school. Host a community cleanup day. Donate food or toys to a charitable drive. When you show passion for your market and its people, that energy draws in clients who see you as an integral member of the neighborhood who then introduce you to their friends.

9. Maintain your online presence.

Don’t forget to take photos and videos while you are out and about in the community. Interview a local business owner and post the video or write a blog about it. Take a photo of your lunch at that new restaurant and post it to Instagram. Check in on Facebook when you arrive at a local event. Bring attention to a local charity when you promote it on your social media platforms. Consistently update your online and social media platforms so people new to the area can find you and you stay top of mind with those who are already fans.

10. Take pride in your work.

Never think of your outreach as “bothering” people or trying to sell them something. You are a service provider—be confident in that role, taking pride in your work and the ways that you help your clients each day. The more you believe in the value you bring, the more others will believe as well. Clients will become your biggest cheerleaders when they see how much you’ve helped them.

When you treat people right and put your heart into your work, you become a referral magnet. Instead of trying to convince cold leads to give you a chance, create a compelling presence in your community and with past clients that will make you the most sought-after agent in your market.

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