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Though many investors will concentrate the majority of their time and money to tangible aspects of their business, there is one portion of their business that is frequently underutilized (and more profitable): the investor's real estate referral network.

Unfortunately, many investors are unaware that passing out 1,000 business cards at any number of real estate investment clubs or bombarding people with spamming real estate social networking marketing is not the ideal strategy for building a real estate network.

Going where the “fish are already biting” and seeing what you can do to help others, rather than discovering how other people can help you, is a far better policy.

But how can you locate these potential real estate referral network members? Here are five terrific places to locate people to join your real estate network, as well as some advice on how to maximize your networking time.

Increasing the Number of Real Estate Referrals

1. Auctions of Real Estate

There may be no better place to start than a real estate auction if you want to locate serious real estate buyers and supercharge your real estate network in no time. For starters, these are like-minded people who work in the same industry as you and hang around in the same circles. Second, you'll stand out in a busy (and frequently cutthroat) atmosphere by introducing yourself to investors and explaining how you might be able to assist them.

2. Meetings of the Landlord Association and the REIA

You've got some immediate homework if you haven't joined your local Real Estate Investor Association (REIA). Both REIA and Landlord Association events can be a great opportunity to get your feet wet in the industry and meet specialists in your field (especially for beginners just getting started).

Leave the “hard sell” at home when networking, and instead question people about their areas of expertise and the types of investment properties they prefer to invest in. Make sure they know you'll keep them updated if you locate something in their sweet spot (it'll make you the “lord of networking” in no time).

Although most bigger cities have their own REIA or Landlord Association, numerous smaller towns and cities do not. You don't have to be concerned; all you have to do is start your own REIA chapter. You'll not only get to determine the agenda, but you'll also be seen as a valuable local resource by the other members.

Chamber of Commerce No. 3

Where else in your market can you find local business leaders and the most motivated entrepreneurs all in one place?

Your local Chamber of Commerce's weekly luncheons are a terrific way to “hob-nob” with the area's business movers and shakers. Simply reach out to them to see if they have any upcoming lunches and if they have room at their table for a nice, local real estate investor. Don't worry, everyone will want to sit next to you once they find out you're an investor.

You'll not only encounter traditional brick-and-mortar business owners, but you'll also have a high opportunity of meeting professionals in the finance and legal fields, who can help you connect with private investors.

And who knows, if you spend some time getting to know people in the company and paying your dues, you might be asked to give a presentation on real estate investing to other business leaders — a terrific approach to create rapport and produce leads without breaking a sweat.

4. Home Trade Shows

Home and trade events are a terrific chance to meet the individuals that make the housing business run, from contractors and bankers to investors and building supplies, and obtain vital insight into how the housing market is “actually” doing.

Now, much like any other networking or conference setting, it's easy to get lost in a sea of exhibitors and booths and forget the point of these events. It's critical that you have a clear, defined approach for what you expect to achieve by attending this type of event; for example, you may set targets for how many people you want to meet.

Better yet, you might rent a booth at the trade event to ramp up your real estate networking. Over the course of a few days, you could be in front of thousands of people. Just make sure your booth has some visual appeal to attract visitors. Otherwise, you'll be sitting in an empty booth all day.

5. Use of Social Media

It's a two-edged sword when it comes to social networking. On the one hand, it's a fantastic way to meet and interact with the people you want to add to your real estate referral network. Some sites, such as Facebook, allow for sophisticated targeting, allowing you to reach out to the specific person who is your perfect network member.

On the other hand, if not tackled with a clear strategy, social media can be a waste of important resources. Not to mention the fact that overt sales pitches often turn people off.

Whether you spend the majority of your time on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter, you should always ask yourself, “What value can I contribute to these people?” Always consider how you can uplift others, whether it's through how-to guidance or simple compliments for a job well done. As a result, you'll notice that your real estate networking takes off.


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