Scaling your property business: how to network like a pro

5 March 2020 | Investment

Networking is a key part of your property business. Many people make the presumption that property is all about viewing houses, offering on houses, renting out houses. When actually networking is probably one of the most fundamental parts of your property business. If you want to really scale your property business, if you want to do a lot of property deals, then you’re going to need the help of other people. You want to be networking to meet likeminded people. But not just meeting likeminded people, meeting likeminded people who can help you on your property journey, who can maybe fund your property deals. Maybe, it’s builders, mortgage brokers, accountants, solicitors, people who you need in your Power Team to help you grow and scale your property business over the coming months and years.

Where can you network? There are lots of different places that you can go to networking. Progressive Property run networking events throughout the UK called, PPN networks. There’s probably one in your town near you. There are about 40 of them now across the country.

But it’s not just about property networking events. It’s also a great idea to attend Business Networking events. There will be events in your local town, Breakfast Meetings and BNI Meetings, Forward Networking Meetings, other types of small networking meetings locally, that you can attend, and meet people who are local to you. Also, it’s a really good idea to go to other parts of the country to network. So, for instance, if you’re up north, go down to the south. Go down to London, do some networking or vice versa. If you live in London, go up north and network.

The Property Super Conference, 2019. London, O2 arena.

Having your networking plan to attend other types of events, not just property, and also, events in other locations around the country to help build your Power Team. The people that you need in your business are the people you may be working within your business in the next few years, might not necessarily live close to you. Many of my business partners, many of the people I work closely within my business, live in other parts of the UK.

Why go to business as well as property, if you’re a property investor? Well, property is a business, No. 1. We are in a business. It’s the property business. But when you attend a property networking event, you’re meeting lots of other property people. And you might not be the smartest person in the room. In fact, it’s probably a wise thing to be the least smart person in the room. If you’re the smartest person in the room, what are you going to learn. It’s important in the room, where maybe, you’re the least smart person in that room so you can learn from other people to take you to a higher level.

When you attend a business networking event, you’re meeting people who are not necessarily property investors. They’re business owners. You will be the smartest property person in the room. This is very smart as well, because these people may have an interest in property, but may not have the time or the inclination to go look for their own property deals. This is where you could benefit form great joint-venture partnerships, or opportunities to raise and borrow money from people who want to return on their money, but don’t necessarily want to have to be involved in the sourcing and the management of the property deals.

I did mention about looking at people from different parts of the UK. But you should also consider networking abroad. Big opportunity to attend networking events in other countries. There are lots of people around the world, who are looking to take money into the UK right now. If you’re waiting for them to come find you, then it’s likely that they’d never will.

But if you go to them, if you go and attend a networking event somewhere else in Europe like Switzerland, Sweden, Netherlands, Norway, to name a few, or go further afield to the Middle East, maybe even to America, Australia. Meet people in other countries, and meet them at a networking event over there, where there maybe other property people, but you’re the only person in that room who’s from the UK. That means that, if they want to invest in the UK market, you would be the only person that they know at that period of time to help them achieve the goals that they’re looking to achieve. So, that’s where to go to network.

What about what to do when you get there? Have a clear plan before you attend. What’s your reason for attending? Don’t just attend a networking event to listen to the speaker and to learn from the speaker. The hint is in the name. It’s called a networking event. It’s not called, come and listen to the speaker event.

What is your plan for attending? Are you going to bring business cards with you? You should be bringing business cards. You certainly need to have a way that you can capture people’s information. And don’t just go there and give your business cards to other people. What you’ll find, is that, you give your business cards out other people, they never ring you. The point of networking, is that, you collect other people’s details. It’s not about you giving your details out. It’s about you collecting their details. You have information, that you can have on them to ring them, email them, for the rest of your life.

A wise person once said, you havet two ears and one mouth. You should use them in that proportion. This is critical in networking. You want to be listening more than you’re speaking. You have the opportunity to learn a little bit about some people at an event, to be keeping your eyes and ears open for the person who is looking to invest money with somebody, looking for property deals. Looking for JV partners. Listen to the conversations that other people are talking. It’s very important that you focus on what other people are saying in the event. You have the rest of your life once you have the business card to tell them about you. But focus on them. People want to have the opportunity to speak. So, a really good tip, is, to sit back, and listen to what other people are saying, and then contact them after the event. You don’t need to sell them you at the event you need to get their business card at the event.

If you do however, get the opportunity to speak and say a little bit about you, then have what’s called an elevated pitch. Practice at home before you attend. Don’t just stand up in an event and say, “hi, I’m Kevin. I’m interested in property. If anybody wants to have a chat with me, come and see me.” Have a really clear plan. Focus on your elevated pitch being no more than 20 to 30 seconds, features and benefits of working with you. 3 top tips on how they can save money with you, how they can make money with you, how you can speed up their journey by working with you. Your elevated pitch is a perfect opportunity to also include a bit that says, I’m looking for XYZ type of person. If you are one of those people, or you know somebody who’s good at that job, then please introduce yourself to me at the breaks, or at the end of the evening. Ask who other people know. Leverage their network. As part of your networking plan, make a list of the types of people you need to help fulfil your Power Team. Do you need a mortgage broker? Do you need an accountant? Do you need a solicitor? Do you need a tax advisor? What people you’re currently missing from your Power Team, and go to the networking events specifically, to source out these people.

The best solicitors, accountants, mortgage brokers, quite often they’re not attending the networking events. They’re busy dealing with their clients in their office or at home. When you go to the networking event, speak to other people and ask them for recommendations. Ask other attendees can you recommend a good solicitor? Can you recommend a good accountant? Can you recommend a good mortgage broker that I could work with? What are the pros and cons of this person? What do you like best about working with this mortgage broker? What is it about the mortgage broker that you don’t like, and get a picture for the people? Because don’t just presume that the people are in the room, are, all you can attract. But it’s the contacts those people in the room have, that can really scale your Power Team quickly.

A lot of people reading may be thinking, “I’m not sure, if I’m confident enough yet to attend a networking event, and stand up, and do a big elevated pitch, or tell people what I do.” I was there when I started my property journey. I used to attend a few networking events. I’d sit there, listening to the speakers. When the breaks would come to do the networking, I’d go to the toilet, or I’d go outside, or I’d come back in the room, and try and not speak to people. I wasn’t benefitting enough from the event.

You have to get the mindset right, before you attend. Have that clear plan. I will share one little story with you that’s really embarrassing. I attended a networking event probably about 10 years ago now. At the break, I went outside of the room. I tried to look busy. And the break went on and on, longer than it probably should have. It’s usually, they’re about 15-minute break. And this one was probably 20-25 minutes. I was trying to avoid people, and not get into a discussion about my property journey, because it wasn’t going great at the time. So, I pretended to be on my mobile phone. While I was pretending to be on my phone, my phone rang. It was so embarrassing…

A couple of tips for you, if you’re shy, if you’re worried about getting involved in a one-to-one discussion with somebody, if you’re just trying to avoid confrontation, or conflict, or being involved in a discussion, where the focus is on you specifically, then a really good tip, is, to just join group discussions. Have a look where a group of people chatting with each other in one of the breaks, and just kind of join the discussion and listen in. It gives you the opportunity to have the 2 ears and one mouth approach, where you’re just listening to what other people are saying.

What that allows you, is, to learn a little bit about the other people in the room, but not put yourself in the spotlight immediately until you’ve built confidence up. And your confidence will grow with time. As you get to meet more people, you’ll start to become more and more open to just promoting yourself. But have a name. Maybe, say it at the first 3 events I attend, I’m just going to scope it out, see what people are like, and learn a little bit about the other people in the room. Then I’m going to start to do my elevated pitch, and to pitch myself a little bit more.

But whatever you do, you need to have that plan to get to the point, where you’re pitching you. This is your business. Don’t go there building other people’s businesses. You have to go there with a plan to build yours.

Another critical part of your plan, is, the number of people you speak to at an event. One of the biggest mistakes I see people make at networking events, is, they get caught speaking to just one or maybe 2 people through the entire evening. You don’t need to spend the entire evening speaking to one person. Let’s say, you have 50-60 people in the room. You’re spending all evenings speaking to 2 people or one person. That means you’re missing out on 45-55 other potential contacts. You might be stuck speaking to one or 2 people that are the worst one or 2 people in the room to be speaking to, while the key contact, the person that could make the biggest difference to your property business is just 5 foot away, and you haven’t met them. You don’t have to pitch your entire business, your entire plan to somebody in a networking event environment.

The only thought process you should have, the only goal that you should have, while you’re at that networking event, is, to get as many people’s contact details as possible in the room. You can follow up with them the week after, the month after, the year after. Once you have their business cards, once you have their phone number and their email address you’ve captured them as part of your business contacts for the rest of their lives. Make sure you spread around the room, and capture as many cards as possible.

If you’re a business partnership, or a couple, don’t sit beside each other for the evening. Have a clear plan when you enter into the room. Sit opposite of each other, opposite ends of the room. One on the front. One on the back. One on the left and one on the right. Then in the networking breaks, have a strategic plan laid out of who’s going to speak to the different people. So, one person may be stay in the room, networking to get business cards. And one person goes out and stand snear the toilets or near the bars, something and speak to the people who don’t stay in the room. Have a clear plan to try and capture as many cards as possible. Because, if you’re a business partnership or a couple, you don’t want to be speaking to the same person. You want to be leveraging your time as much as possible, to get around to as many people as possible at that event.

Our first impression is critical. Make sure that, if you’re attending a networking event, dress well. Don’t show up in shorts and a t-shirt, or the top that’s got like, a political slogan or something on it. You would be surprised how many people make a decision about business based on how somebody is dressed.

Many people make a decision about other people based on the first 4 or 5 seconds of meeting them. Don’t give people the opportunity to have a negative impression of you. If you have to shine your shoes! Iron your shirt. Iron your socks. Just dress well. Dress for the part. Look professional. Then when you’re speaking to people, give them the opportunity to talk about themselves much more than you do, talk about you, the 2 ears and one mouth approach. And only really speak about you, if they ask you about you.

Then turn it back, and tell them a little bit about you. But say, “but what about you? How could I help you? What is it you’re looking for in property that I could help you with?” Ask questions around how you can help the other person, or help the other person needs. Too many people attending events, and it’s all about me, me, me. I need this. I need that, I need the other. If you take the approach of how can I help you, what help do you need, what is that we could maybe collaborate on, that would be mutually beneficial. You’ll get a much better response for people.

Don’t try and sell them something in the first 30 seconds of meeting them. One of the most off putting things that can happen at a networking event, is, somebody comes, and they try to sell you a deal, or sell you an opportunity, or borrow money off you in the first 30 seconds. People want to work with people who they know and trust. Build that relationship. Use the 3-day rule. The first day, is that, networking event. Maybe, invite them to meet them for a coffee. Then maybe, at 3rd meeting, before you’ve ever talk to them about a potential opportunity to work with you, JV with you, borrow money off you, or you borrow money off them.

You could also post online, before you attend the event. Tell people that you’re going to be attending X networking event. You’re going to get there early, and if anybody wants to meet you for a coffee, in the bar, in the restaurant, before the meeting starts, then you’re going to be there. Just drop you a private message, and you can arrange the time to have a business discussion at business meeting, before the meeting starts. So, a really good opportunity to meet likeminded people on a one-to-one basis.

Just look at the networking event as the time of the event, for instance, 7 pm to 9 pm at night. That’s when Progressive Property Networking events happened. Look at it more about the event itself is on from 7:00 till 9:00 pm. But I could get there at 5:00 pm, even at 4:00 pm, and have some meetings with other delegates who are attending. It will make you stand out from the other attendants. It will help you stand out from the other attendees, and position you as the expert in the room.

One of the reasons, I was pretending to be on my phone, when I wasn’t on the phone, is that, I felt like I didn’t have enough experience. I wasn’t doing as much as other people maybe were doing at the event. The first few deals I did, they went completely wrong. I didn’t want people to ask me, how was I getting on in property, because actually, I was getting on pretty bad. I was a bit embarrassed about sharing that I’ve lost money in some of my initial property deals.

I just shied away from the networking. The reality, is, nobody was looking at me. Some people in the room weren’t way more experienced than me. And actually, those that were way more experienced than me are the very people I should have been speaking to. It was a mindset that I had, a negative mindset around other people are focussed on you. The reality is other people are not focussed on you. They’re not worried about you. They’re not bothered about what you’re trying to do in terms of a negative way. They actually want to help you. As soon as I got over my negative mindset, and I allowed myself to speak to other people, and allowed myself to share my failures in property with other people, suddenly I’ve found that the people wanted to help me. And it massively fast tracked my property journey and my property success.

What you realise once you open up to speaking to other people at networking events, is that, they’re just the same as you. they’re not high-powered executives that don’t want to get involved and speak to little old me or little old you. We’re actually just normal people. Normal people who are in a job, or maybe, just got of a job, building a property business, but they’re just normal people who are likeminded on the same road as you, on the same path as you, who are looking for the very same thing. We all attend the networking event for the same thing. To network with other people, to exchange contact details with other people, to learn from each other, and to potentially from joint-venture partnerships, business relationships, and make money together.

There are some of my top tips for you to look at, to help you become a better networker this year. I hope you found that useful. Remember, The Progressive Property Podcast is out every Tuesday. It’s on iTunes and Stitcher. Make sure you subscribe. Make sure you’re also a member of The Progressive Property Facebook Community. There are about 26,000 people in there now, sharing their property stories, property journeys, the good, the bad. A really great learning environment.

This post has been originally featured in Progressive Property