Your Networking Plan – Do You Have One?

Your Networking Plan – Do You Have One?

“What do you do?” This is, perhaps, the most common question you’ll encounter at any event where you’re meeting people for the first time. Always be armed with a reply that’s short, interesting, and easy to understand. Prepare three slightly different “scripts”:

1. A general answer. When talking to consumers, focus on how your work achieves ideal results for your clients. For example, “I’m a real estate agent who helps relocating employees from other countries transfer into MyTown. Most of my clients are from Germany and France. I really enjoy working across cultures and helping these buyers make a smooth transition into a new home.”

2. When at industry events. If you’re talking to other real estate professionals, it’s okay to sprinkle in some jargon that helps further clarify your niche. For example, “I focus on international corporate relocation and have solid relationships with four French and German companies operating in our market. I’m also working with a new Regional Center to attract EB5 investors.”

3. Pitch your market too. “Where are you from?” is another common question. Help cast your market in the most positive light, by saying something interesting and memorable. Contrast these examples:

Boring, vague: “MyTown is a far west suburb of BigCity, which was  first established as a farming community back in the mid-1800s.”

More appealing: “MyTown is the fastest-growing collar community in BigCity and boasts a vibrant, historical downtown area. We also have a strong tech corridor running through the north side of town.”

Building and Engaging Your Network

Networking is unique among marketing activities, in that it often lacks structure and organization. It’s easy to point to your website, or your ads. Networking, on the other hand, is more intangible, and potentially overlooked. The only way to give it “form” is to take a more deliberate approach:

Organize your contacts. If you have a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool, use it—or develop your own system. Decide the best way to put your contacts into discreet categories, perhaps including Clients/Prospects (current versus past), Personal Network (friends and relatives), Professional Network (lenders, attorneys, etc.), and Industry Network (CIPS designees and other real estate agents). You may prefer color-coding your categories and/or using keywords.

Define action items. What are the best ways to “work” your contacts? Consider this question from various perspectives: Who is my ideal prospect and what will bring them into my “pipeline?” How can I cultivate referral relationships? Which tactics are most effective, and which am I good (or bad) at executing? These questions, and others, will help you decide whether your action plan will include phone calls, personal emails, email and/or social media campaigns, attending local/international networking events, hosting your own events, etc.

Create follow-up systems. A plan is only as good as the systems backing it up. Make sure all new contacts are captured, entered into your CRM system, and receive appropriate follow-up. Streamline any ongoing marketing campaigns as much as possible. Use time-blocking techniques to ensure you carve out personal time for activities like prospecting.

Business Cards

People exchange business cards in virtually every corner of the world. However, expectations and etiquette can vary dramatically between countries, and sometimes between cities in the same country.

Do your research. When traveling to another market, you may need to print a special set of business cards, adhering to different business practices. This may require translations, either replacing the content on the front side of your card, or adding a translated version to the reverse side. It can also help to spell out states, rather than using abbreviations. For instance, instead of FL, say Florida.

Learn the etiquette. In many countries, exchanging business cards involves some degree of formality. This may include accepting a card with both hands, taking time to read it, and making direct eye contact before tucking it into a pocket. Many cultures are quite enthusiastic about exchanging cards, so make sure you arrive with plenty to share.

Did you know you can create customized business cards, featuring the CIPS logo? Go to NAR’s Global Marketing Center, upload your photo and logo, add contact details, then print/ship (for a nominal fee) or download a PDF  file (free). It’s that easy!

International Events

One of the very best ways to expand and strengthen your global network is to attend at least one international event each year. In addition to networking, you’ll come home energized with fresh ideas that can only be obtained through face-to-face experiences and direct contact with other cultures.

Not sure where to go, or how to “work” an event? Turn to the June 2017 issue of Global Perspectives, which provides essential tips, and compares/contrasts major trade shows around the world. (Past issues are posted at

Action Items

1. Prepare and practice your “elevator pitches.” Brainstorm and write down everything that’s impressive about the clients you’ve served, how you stand out in your eld, what you’re currently working on, and what’s great about your market. Use these notes to develop specific pitches for different audiences. Practice them out loud (it will help you identify small improvements) and commit them to memory.

2. Develop (and stick to) a personal networking plan. Determine which tactics will work best for achieving your goals, commit your plan to paper, and enter key dates into your calendar. Writing down your intentions will greatly improve your ability to achieve them! As you work your plan, always be on the look-out for potential refinements.

3. Join the CIPS Facebook group. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again. For most CIPS designees, this is the easiest way to share business-building tips and referral opportunities on a daily basis. Nearly 2,000 CIPS designees, located around the world, have already joined this closed group. (Called “Official Group: NAR CIPS Designees.”)

Source: NAR Global Perspectives, February 2018