Networking. The word which produces a frisson of excitement as you get suited and booted and shuffle your business cards like a boss. Or it makes you fold in awkwardly like origami as you imagine standing around, wishing the speakers would just start already so you can sit down. For me personally, the word ‘networking’ still conjures up some kind of 80s Wall Street scene, chinking glasses with millionaires, head thrown back laughing about mega deals. This is not an experience I’ve actually had very often. Well, not every time! What we have had though as a team is some great, dare we say it fun property networking experiences; experiences which have led to some long-term, profitable partnerships. Here’s what we’ve learnt about property networking:
The best networking events we’ve been to are the ones where we felt like we weren’t actually working. Plugging business is as boring as it sounds, isn’t it? Sounds like a lot of effort as well, plugging something. But having an East 8 cocktail (the East 8 cocktail is a real cocktail by the way, and is delicious) in a vibrant venue while you meet inspiring people you would never normally meet? Sounds much more fun. That’s our kind of event. Seek out the events which sound fun or are least hosted by fun people as they will draw a similar crowd. Matt Siddell at Opulen (PPN) and Brendan Quinn (Brendan Quinn Events) are two great property networking hosts we love to hear speak and are brilliant at lending their support to business owners.
Don’t be that person. The person who is looking above and sort of beyond your eyeline as they recall their business’ mission statement. Something about property…solutions…something something. No. Be the person who just starts chatting easily as though they’re at a dinner party. ‘Are you a member of this group?’ or ‘how do you know…? are both oldies but goodies. Finding out why attendees go to a particular event might tell you whether it’s the right place for you and your business to take a regular seat. If nothing else, at least the ice is broken and you’ve taken the lead. The rest should really come naturally and not be planned. If you find yourself doggedly plugging products or zoning out, might be time to move on.
Take it onsite
Invite people you meet there to a tour of one of your projects. Even if it means a brief exterior walk-around, coffee in hand, chatting about render and the irritations of planning delays. Our experience of tours has been really positive. It’s fun for us, we can easily show where the value is being added, and it’s much easier to get into the finer details such as investment needs when someone can visualise what you’re going to achieve and get on board with it in their own way. Project not underway yet? Why not meet in the brilliant, high-growth area you’re investing in? Just don’t meet in Starbucks. Ever.
Take it online
We’re going to keep harking on about social media. But here’s a different way to look at it. Once you’ve met in person, or even if you haven’t, social media actually allows you to be a complete stalker. Who are these people really? Do I want to build a professional relationship with them? You can now legally find out far too much information about people by using social media. And they actually want you to. So go ahead, start following them, comment, share and retweet their stuff. Send them a direct message rather than an e-mail. With the transparency social media affords, you’ll be able to get a pretty good idea of the culture and mindset of their business, which will help you decide long and short-term propositions for working together.
Take the mike!
A terrifying prospect initially, we agree. Nicole Bremner has been there. The nervous, dry-mouthed pre-talk moments. Are the slides ready? Is this being filmed? And so on. Imagine if you will however the thrill of speak publicly, and lending your valuable expertise to others in the industry. What tips and experience can you give? How will you show your unique approach to the common issues so many of us face in property? Take the mike and tell us! Take the mike and watch the queue of interesting, engaged people forming to speak to you after. Who needs an ice-breaker when you’re driving the Snowcat?
Ultimately you get back what you put out there. If you take an attitude of meeting someone’s needs, seeing them as a person rather than a company or client, networking can be very easy and profitable. Not much else to say about this, it’s just a truth of business networking!
Join us with Brendan Quinn
On Saturday 28th January 2017 we’ll be joining Brendan Quinn at his 1 Day Property Development Summit. Packed with property strategy tips, information and industry-wide developments, this is a property learning and networking event not to be missed. We’ll be there with bells on!
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