I’m a massive fan of social media but, as much as I love Twitter, 99% of my work is done in the real world, visiting brokers, and networking at conferences, roadshows and other events.
In fact, that’s my favourite bit of the job. I might love to tweet, but I prefer to meet.
Because no matter how well you hone your social media skills, nothing can replace the impact of actually interacting with people face to face. All business is built on relationships and the mortgage industry is no exception, so it’s essential that you get yourself out and about in the real world.
Of course, not every broker gets invited to all the swanky black tie balls, but wherever you are based you will have opportunities to network. If you’re an appointed rep, your network will probably run its own courses and roadshows. And if not, you can still invest in a trip to the major mortgage exhibitions, or join your local Chamber of Commerce and meet other local firms.
Whatever you do, when you network you should do it with enthusiasm. There’s no point turning up to an event and hiding in the corner.
Here are some top tips for successful networking:
It sounds simple and it is. Being nice to people really makes a difference, plus it is more enjoyable for you too.
Know your stuff – and ask questions
Don’t try to blag it, as you will get caught out. Most brokers know the market inside out, but if you are chatting to somebody and you don’t fully understand what they are saying, ask them. They will probably enjoy explaining it to you and you’ll learn something.
It won’t make you look stupid to ask questions but it will make you look stupid to pretend you know everything and then get caught out.
Sometimes networking can be nerve-wracking, especially if you aren’t used to it, so you might be focussed on saying and doing the right things. But remember to listen to what people are saying to you too. You will build a stronger relationship with somebody if you talk with them, not just at them.
Attend as many events as you can
It’s never a waste of time to go to networking events, even if you only chat to one person. That person could end up giving you business, and if not, you will have built up your networking confidence through the experience anyway.
Of course, you need to be at your desk and meeting clients too, but make time in your diary for evening events and the occasional daytime conference. They can really help raise your profile and therefore help your business.
Always follow up
After meeting new contacts, always make a point of following up with them. Either email or phone them within a week of the event, to confirm contact details or simply to say it was good to meet them. If you discussed a possible future meeting, get it in the diary as soon as you can. Make the most of any opportunities that come your way.