Business slows down a bit over the holidays but it usually picks up fairly quickly at the beginning of the year. I am already getting calls from people who want to put their homes on the market after the holidays and will be very busy this January.
During the holidays I have had a little extra time to network and to connect with people. I have rediscovered the value of networking. Most of my networking starts on the Internet, but it doesn’t end there.
The value that I have rediscovered is that I can help others in my network. During these recessionary times people need help and are reaching out more than ever. Sometimes I can help because the people in my networks know people, too.
One of my clients called me to let me know that he needs to sell one of his condos. We got to talking. I asked him how his business is doing. He needs more work. As luck would have it, I had a conversation with someone earlier in the day with someone who was looking for my client’s skills. I introduced them last night via Twitter.
A couple of days before that a friend of mine confided that he just got laid off but he has not told anyone yet except his immediate family. I advised him to take a couple of days off and then tell everyone he knows that he doesn’t have a job and is looking. Keeping something like that a secret isn’t a smart move. I want to help him and I know that there are others who want to help, but they don’t know he is available.
As I connected others, I began to realize that I need to take some of my own advice. I started telling my contacts that I am ready to list more homes and that if they know anyone who wants to buy a home I am ready to work with them. When they ask how business is, I tell them that the last two months have been slow — too slow.
I have never been afraid to ask for business, but in the past I have not admitted it when business is slow or that I need more of it. I don’t exaggerate or lie about it — I just don’t mention it. The people in my networks know me and they won’t judge me harshly if I am having a couple of slow months.
My contacts seem to be just as happy to help me as I am to help them. In the last couple of weeks I have been able to put several appointments on my calendar for January, and I feel like I will be off to a great start in 2009.
I think a big part of the road to recovery will be helping each other whenever we can. There are people who are losing jobs and homes, and we can help them if we try. We all know people who know people.
Sometimes when we are taught how to network, the emphasis is placed on who we can meet and how they can help us. Right now it is best to think in terms of who we know and how we can help them.
Helping each other on a personal level is powerful and it might be a better solution to the economic crisis than waiting for the government to take action. Each of us can do something, and we need to start now.
Teresa Boardman is a broker in St. Paul, Minn., and founder of the St. Paul Real Estate blog.
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