As any real estate agent knows, finding quality leads and generating new business starts with cultivating pre-existing relationships. But, if you don’t already have a large referral base or if you are new to the area, generating new leads can be difficult.

While novice agents tend to focus more on open houses and cold-calling, or spend copious amounts of money on print advertising, successful agents are able to cultivate referrals by working side-by-side with neighbors and collaborators. They engage in volunteer opportunities and local networking events, which tend to increase their opportunities for fostering new personal and professional relationships.

5 Ways to Establish Yourself in the Local Community 

Introduce Yourself
Identify three community leaders you’d like to get to know better and either ask for introductions to them or send an email introducing yourself. Having trouble thinking of what to say? You can share a link you’d think would be relevant to their work, congratulate them on a recent accomplishment, or just let them know you noticed they’re making an impact in the community.

Stay in Touch
When’s the last time you contacted past clients? If you don’t already have a spreadsheet or tracking system in place to remind you about birthdays, holidays and regular checkpoints, create one today and be strategic about staying in their lives. Here are some ways you can stay in touch:

  • Send out a weekly or monthly newsletter to your email base updating them on your business.
  • Throw a thank-you party by inviting your former clients to a cookout or cocktail party as a way to say thank you for their business.
  • Send Christmas or other holiday cards to update your former clients on your family.
  • Send a “Happy Anniversary” gift at the one-year anniversary of when they bought or sold their home.

Show You Care
While you can’t be involved in every community event, choosing a few to participate in throughout the year will help you meet people and build rapport. If you don’t already have a community volunteer event on the horizon, go to your community’s website or social media pages and find an upcoming cause that fits your passion and your schedule. (Download our Voice of the Real Estate Agent report to learn how one Missouri real estate agent became a pillar of his community.)

Swap Notes
Since real estate professionals experience more success the more they understand about their market, find a partner working in your market that you can share notes with—and vice versa. Even though they’re technically your competition, connecting with other agents is a great way to learn from their successes and establish yourself as a peer.

Think Like a Journalist
Getting information about your market can come from many different places. Approach your market as if you’re an investigative journalist. Sign up for your community newsletters, make a list of neighborhood newspapers and find out if there are any upcoming town hall meetings where you could learn something valuable or develop a new relationship.

Finally, once you have a client who is happy with your services, don’t be afraid to ask for referrals! You never know when one happy client will lead to more.

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