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Welcome to the final part of our 3-part series: Building Your Business Plan. Our intent for this series is to provide you with direction and resources to ensure you are taking steps toward effectively building your business in 2021. In Part 1 we outlined the initial steps you should take to prepare for a successful year, and in Part 2 we identified how you can develop a marketing strategy to meet your clients’ needs. As we near the end of the first quarter, our hope is that you have some deals in the pipeline. We assume that you have made great efforts to stay connected with your sphere of influence and have actively implemented a strategic marketing plan.
Now, the goal for the rest of Q1 should be to focus on networking, maintaining your flow of follow-up contacts, and preparing for Q2. However, we also want to discuss how to accomplish such networking goals during these unprecedented times of social distancing and limited exposure.
Let’s get started!
March 2021: Network and Analyze
Networking looks different for every individual. Depending on your personality, passion, and interests, you may want to engage in different types of networking events. However, regardless of the category you fall under, you should participate in both externally organized events and your own personal events to broaden your circle of contacts as much as possible.
Respect COVID-19 Restrictions
The traditional methods of networking, which many of you are accustomed to, may no longer work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, large workshops are no longer feasible, and even small dinners may be a stretch. As a result, industries around the world have had to implement new and innovative strategies for hosting networking events.
To ensure the safety of your clients and your family, we recommend following the guidelines of your local government regarding what is and is not appropriate for social distancing during the pandemic. In most cases, it is best to play it safe, so as to not offend any current or prospective clients. Remember, this is a short-term solution. Once things start to return to normal, you can use these connections to continue building traditional relationships through face-to-face interaction.
With this in mind, the question remains: How do you socialize and connect during these times? How do you build your business and maintain relationships when a simple handshake is frowned upon?
We’re here to provide some suggestions. Let’s review.
Identify Your Focus
During these times, it is best to focus your networking efforts on your sphere of influence. Since large gatherings — where you would typically introduce yourself to new and prospective clients — are no longer an alternative, you want to redirect your attention. By focusing on achievable goals, such as continuing to connect with those in your sphere, you can not only obtain clients’ business but also secure referrals for future business.
To network with your sphere of influence, consider participating in one (or more!) of the following:
1 – Schedule a Networking Event
Those 200 or fewer individuals in your sphere of influence should be your number one priority this month when it comes to connecting with people personally—and by this, we mean in person!
Consider hosting a gathering for your sphere of influence, such as a happy hour or a breakfast.
You can speak at the event — summarizing the current market conditions and discussing what to expect over the next few years. You can also invite guest speakers to present (think: lenders, mortgage brokers, etc.— but not your competitors!), which can add to your credibility. Not only can this type of event bring your clients value, but it can also provide an optimal space for clients to discuss your services and identify you as the market expert. (Hopefully, they will brag to each other about how much they enjoyed the event and how great you are!)
You have two approaches to take during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure the safety of all participants.
- Host the event outside. This will provide participants with adequate space to maintain social distancing while still allowing them to meet in person.
- Host an online/virtual event. A year into the pandemic, online events have become the norm. Don’t be shy if you want to simplify your plans by hosting an online event. This allows everyone to feel comfortable while encouraging them to engage with your network.
Both options are great for helping you build your brand! Pick the one that best suits your personality and business demands.
2 – Identify Online Events You Can Attend
As a result of the pandemic, an influx of online events have occurred. Industries have turned to such activities to keep their businesses alive. In the real estate industry, the largest companies have begun hosting online seminars to keep individuals educated on market trends and future expectations. Consider participating in one of these events!
Identify both local events within your community and national seminars. However, note that local events will be more useful for your business. You can engage with new community members and introduce your sphere of clients to the events you are attending.
Here are some platforms that may be hosting events you should consider attending:
- National Association of Realtors (NAR)
- National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)
- Information Management Network (IMN)
- Eventbrite (for local events)
- MeetUp (for local events)
If an event is within your area of expertise, you can ask the host to be a guest speaker. This is an excellent way to get your name out to the community and impress prospective clients with your knowledge and experience.
3 – Leverage Social Media
Last month we explained how real estate agents can utilize social media to build their brand. Today, more than ever, this method of connecting with clients is imperative — technology has allowed us to stay connected even when unforeseen social restrictions are in place.
Here are some ideas for posting that can help you connect with your audience:
- Market Updates: Educate your audience on how the pandemic could be impacting their position and prospects.
- Recent Transactions: This means YOUR recent transactions! Post your listings, in-escrow deals, and closings. Keep updating the flow of your activity to show that you are present in the market.
- Blogs: Since most individuals have a bit of spare time these days, consider starting a blog. Create content that targets your sphere of influence, whether it be first-time homeowners or those looking to refinance.
- Interviews: Providing insight from other market professionals is a great way to ensure your audience is well educated. Try reaching out to local experts and conducting brief interviews with them. Then, post these sessions on your social media — you should consider a YouTube account for this one.
- Client Testimonials: If you have close relationships with past clients, ask them if they would be open to sharing a clip about your professionalism and your services. Client testimonials are a simple, yet very effective, marketing tool to personalize your brand.
- Creativity: Try something new! If you have an idea, now is the time to test it out. We are witnessing a shift in how the real estate industry works, and it won’t hurt you to be an innovator in the marketing department.
For each of the above ideas, Cloze can help you track your progress. It has numerous functions created specifically to manage your market efforts. For example, Cloze makes it easy to send out your blog posts. Simply start with the mail base template, paste your links, and add a personal note. Cloze will not only take care of the rest, but it also will track the interaction automatically.
4 – Drop Off a Pop-by Gift
In times such as those we’ve experienced in 2020 and early 2021, when social distancing is essential, hosting or participating in the aforementioned events may be difficult. If that’s the case, consider alternative ways to connect with your clients, such as dropping off gifts for them.
This may take extra time and effort, but it can be a great way to create a genuinely personal connection with your clients. It can be extremely important in maintaining your top-priority relationships.
What is a pop-by gift?
A pop-by gift if just like it sounds — a gift that you give to a client during a pop-by visit! Back in December, we introduced this concept as a way for real estate agents to connect with clients during the holidays, and the strategy is still useful today.
Since we are no longer in the holiday season, here are some new ideas for gifts to drop by your clients:
- Baked goods
- Cocktail sets
- Recipe baskets
- Girl Scout cookies (Plus, you get to support your local community!)
- Plants or flowers
With Cloze, you can identify and organize your clients according to common traits, which can simplify your gift purchasing. For example, you can create an entertainment theme and identify all clients who have joined you for happy hour and then categorize them as the perfect candidates for a cocktail set. This can streamline the gift-giving process and ensure you keep your connections personal.
Analyze Your Progress and Prepare for Q2
In addition to concentrating on your networking this month, it is time to analyze your first quarter activity and commence preparation for Q2.
Using the Analytics tab in Cloze, you can analyze how you have been doing in 2021 so far. This section helps you identify areas of success and areas for improvement. The platform breaks down Q1 in multiple ways to help you genuinely grasp your progress year-to-date. It analyzes the following items:
- Number of active members in your sphere of influence
- How many leads are still active, how many you lost, etc.
- Totals contacts for the quarter, including emails, viewings, calls, link clicks, mail openings, etc.
- Contact rates for emails and calls
- Overall activity
- Quarterly trends
After reviewing and understanding how you are doing thus far, it’s time to start over. Set goals for Q2 and get ready for spring’s increased transaction velocity! Not only can you turn the clock ahead for Daylight Saving Time, but you can get a head start on your quarterly goals.