Building a Referral-Based Business

A few months ago I nervously posted the first content piece about real estate on my Facebook page. While most everyone knew I was now working in real estate, it was daunting to broadcast myself as an “expert” for the first time. Thankfully I have a wonderful community of friends that embraced it enthusiastically. Even better, I got a deal out of it.*

Herein lies an example of the magic of the real estate business - a friend saw the post and reached out to say she knew of two people planning a move. She wondered if she could connect us. I was thrilled. Finding prospective clients is never supposed to be that easy!

If you’re reading this, chances are I’ve asked you to “keep me in mind if you hear anyone in your network is planning a move.” This kind of request, though very common in the industry, is a bit unnatural. It can be uncomfortable directly lobbying friends to help your business, but I believe this to be the best approach to finding new clients. Here’s why.

“All things being equal, people will do business with, and refer business to, those people they know, like and trust.” ~ Bob Burg

The first 4-5 months into this job I followed the prescribed lead generation tactics taught in “Real Estate 101” once you get your license. Cold calling, knocking on doors, hosting open houses for other broker’s listings. I felt slightly uncomfortable doing these things, almost like I was keeping a secret from these people that my real motivation was to get them to buy something from me as I asked them indirect questions about their living situation.

Starting out in real estate is a slow build - the deals come weeks, even months, apart. I debated for months whether I could push myself harder and force more production by mastering scripts and cold call strategies, knocking on hundreds of doors a week, and email blasting anyone I had ever met at an open house. Kind of a Great Leap Forward policy for my business.

Yet something in my gut wasn’t aligning with this method. (Perhaps the fact that the Great Leap Forward caused millions of deaths should have been one clue as to why...)

I kept thinking about that lucky break after my Facebook post, and how all my clients thus far had come from organic introductions.

What I discovered over those few months is that I am not your textbook salesperson. I am a relationship person. I find it energizing to meet new people, build better connections with existing friends and acquaintances, and connect people in my network to one another. So I went against convention, deciding that even though I was new to the business I would double down on what I genuinely enjoy - staying in touch with people and nurturing my network - and hope the business followed. So far it has.

In addition to establishing myself as the preferred real estate resource for my network, I am committed to creating an environment of reciprocity. I want people think of me when they have a professional need. As my network grows, my ability to help others advance their career grows as well. This is my ultimate objective - to proactively foster an ecosystem where as I help more people reach their real estate goals, I can simultaneously introduce my clients and peers to connections that will benefit their business or career. 

I would love to hear if this is something that speaks to you, and take suggestions on how to do this more effectively if you have them.

And as always, “if you learn of anyone in your network planning a move, I would love to connect with them!”

...Had to do it ;)

Please reach out if there’s anything I might be able to do to help your business succeed.

If you’re interested in reading about referrals as a business strategy, check out these books by Bob Burg:

  • The Go-Giver
  • Endless Referrals

*I hesitate to use the term “deal” here as the Painted Door philosophy is “Beyond the Transaction.” This job isn’t about units and transaction count, it’s about helping people achieve their real estate goals, providing top-notch customer service, and remaining their go-to real estate resource for life.