This pandemic might be dragging on…and on…but real estate business isn’t stopping. In fact, with more than 17,500 homes under contract and 57,444 homes for sale in the Chicagoland MLS,* it’s safe to say that the market shows no signs of the typical seasonal slowdown.
In between the showing appointments and closing dates, real estate agents and attorneys can use this time to reach out to clients, contacts and connections. There are plenty of options for real estate networking, even when you can’t do it face-to-face.
With social distancing guidelines in place, here are a few ways you can network virtually to check in and stay top of mind.
Build your social media presence
Since the pandemic started and everything shifted online, up to 51% of US adults are using social media at higher rates (according to an April 2020 GlobalWebIndex Survey). Although usage will likely normalize to pre-pandemic rates, there is no question that people are turning online for much-needed social connections.
First things first: make sure your social media profiles are up-to-date with a fresh headshot for your profile picture and an up-to-date bio. Start by following people you’re interested in knowing or who post interesting content
As you grow your presence, be sure that you are showing up authentically on social media and posting content that feels on-brand and gives your followers a sense of your personality.
Real estate is an intrinsically social business, making real estate networking so important. People want to be social, not sold to when they log onto social networks. If you do decide to reach out to your clients on social media, start by leaving helpful or engaging comments on their content or sending them direct messages simply asking them how they are doing.
People will appreciate that you are thinking about how they are doing, and not just selling, selling, selling!
Get creative with client appreciation
2020 might not be the year to host your annual client appreciation cocktail party or ice cream social, but there are plenty of creative ways to show appreciation for your clients while keeping with the times.
If you decide to send a client appreciation gift, how about something your clients can use while they are spending more time at home? Package up your favorite room freshening spray, a fun Jigsaw puzzle, a bag of local coffee and your favorite local baked goods or bagels for those at-home fall morning brunches.
Another option is to pick up the bill at your favorite local business! Is there a local donut shop that everyone loves in your community? A pizza place where people love to pick up their Friday night pie? Coordinate with the owner to open up a private tab and invite your clients to stop in to pick up their breakfast or dinner on you.
If you simply can’t part with the idea of an in-person event, consider renting a local food truck or even an ice cream truck to park in the neighborhood and invite your clients to stop by to pick up some lunch or a treat to-go — on you!
Use Zoom to your advantage
It isn’t easy to make personal connections when your only face-to-face interaction is through a screen.
The good news?
Since Zoom meetings don’t require you to leave your office or sit in traffic, you might find yourself connecting with people who you might not have been able to otherwise.
Invite clients or prospects for a Zoom coffee or cocktail and send them a Starbucks card or a cocktail set from the Cocktail Courier prior to the meeting so you can enjoy a beverage together.
Once you’re on the call, use the room! Ask about artwork, furniture or something you see in their office or home. If family or pets pop in at any point, say hi — you might learn something new about the person.
Hit the virtual conference circuit
If you’re spending more time at home, it’s a great opportunity to sign up for webinars and conferences you might not have attended in person because of scheduling conflicts or geography.
Although you might not pick up new clients at a real estate industry networking event or conference, you might meet vendors who can help you create efficiencies in your business or other agents who could potentially help grow your referral network down the road.
If you attend a virtual conference, check out the attendee list beforehand and make a list of the individuals that you’d like to connect with during the conference. Many organizers are using apps that allow you to set up 10-15 minute meetings with vendors and other attendees like “speed networking.” You suggest a meeting and meeting time, and they either accept or decline.
How are you staying connected with your clients this year? Head to our Facebook or Instagram pages and weigh in in the comments.
*Source: MRED, Residential Properties, All MLS, 8/1/20-8/31/20.