Meetups bridge marketing divide

'Make a friend now, do a deal later'

Cold calling and door-knocking are still viable ways to generate business. But why would you want to work so hard when there are better ways to connect with potential clients?

To succeed using these strategies, you need a hard-driving personality type that can also handle a 98 percent rejection rate. Because so many real estate salespeople are people’s persons, this level of rejection is tough to take. Furthermore, if you are making cold calls, you have the extra hassle of having to make sure you don’t call anyone on the National Do Not Call Registry.

So what are the best alternatives in 2010 to meet potential clients?

One of the best choices is from Meetup.com. Networking has always been a proven way to meet people. Most business networking events, however, are like being in a room full of hungry sharks. Everyone is cruising around looking for the next meal ticket for their business.

Meetup.com is a Web site where people who share similar interests can find each other. The site allows users to post where various face-to-face meetings will occur. Meetups cover a wide variety of interests. For example, Meetups in my area today included a clean energy group, a bicycling group, a cooking club, people who want to Welsh more fluently, and a group for parents with Autistic children.

Meetups are an excellent way to meet those with whom you share mutual interests. Your goal in attending is the same as it would be when you meet a new neighbor. You’re not attending to promote your business. Instead, you’re there to have fun doing something you like to do.

The law of attraction says, "Like attracts like." People enjoy being around others who share the same mutual interests and beliefs. To get them to do business with you, help them with what they value.

For example, if your Meetup group is business-based, do your best to try out the services or the products your group members are selling. Once you establish that the person’s service or product is high-quality, write a testimonial for that person’s business and put it on LinkedIn. In most cases, the other person will reciprocate by posting a testimonial for you. To really help the other party, post the testimonial on Yelp.com. Posts on Yelp typically rank high in most Google searches. …CONTINUED

To make the testimonial process even more effective, shoot a video testimonial. It’s easy to do with one of the Flip video cams. Just aim, push the red button, and then download your video through the USB port on your computer. In fact, when you offer to shoot a video testimonial for a member of your group, the person you are doing the testimonial for may offer to do the same for you right on the spot.

One of the most important reasons for using video testimonials is that they help your Google ranking. While no one knows for sure exactly how Google determines search ranking, it’s pretty obvious that Google ranks video highly. To illustrate this point, put in the name of someone you know who has made a video. That video will typically come up on the first page of that search under "images."

In addition to testimonials, you can help the people from your Meetup group in many other ways. For example, for people who belong to a clean energy group, track down where your group can find rebates on energy efficient appliances, articles on how to cut utility bills, or how to save money by having a radiant barrier installed in their homes. When possible choose something real estate related, provided it has a direct application to the group’s interest.

Another strategy is to share interesting articles. For instance, if someone is facing a difficult problem or has a special interest in a topic, you could search for articles on that topic on Twitter. Using the example for parents who have autistic children, simply plug in the word "autism" into the search function on Twitter. You will receive the live feed of tweets on that topic.

If you don’t have a Twitter account, use Monitter.com. Monitter allows you to search Twitter without having a Twitter account. Simply enter "Autistic children" or "Autism" into the search box and Monitter will bring up the same tweets you would see if you had a Twitter account.

The best thing about people who attend Meetups is that they actually want to meet and get to know you on a personal basis. Rather than promoting your services, you’re there to have fun and help others. Once people get to know and trust you, they will be much more likely to do business with you. It comes down to this very simple strategy: "Make a friend now, do a deal later."

Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, trainer and author of "Real Estate Dough: Your Recipe for Real Estate Success" and other books. You can reach her at Bernice@RealEstateCoach.com and find her on Twitter: @bross.

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