One of the biggest blunders in real estate marketing, aside from completely disregarding your personal brand, is networking inefficiently. Printing out a million business cards, following everyone with the word “real estate” in their Twitter bio and failing to recognize your target audience aren’t minor mistakes.

Actually, unproductive networking wastes time and money, with little professional connections to speak of in the end.

They aren’t groundbreaking, but you’ve likely failed to implement at least a few of the following success strategies.

1. Receive rather than give.

Business cards are invaluable to an agent. As a general rule, try to collect more business cards than you give out. Count before and after to make sure you’re staying on target.

When you fail to hit your goal, think about who received your cards and information. Were they all valuable connections, or were you making rounds and going through the motions?

Speaking of taking more than you give, keep your end of the conversation minimal. Listen to others rather than chat someone’s ear off. This technique is commonly referred to as elicitation, or gathering information by listening rather than speaking.

With your personal involvement or interruption, you’re likely to hear a more honest narrative from a potential client or partner.

Besides, no one wants to hear about your lackluster experience with apartment building XYZ or the million-dollar deal you just secured.

2. Pay for events once in a while.

It’s tempting to hit up the free events, but there’s usually some sort of sales pitch and the people there might not be as serious. Paid events are usually tailored toward a specific real estate persona professional, and you can select which fits your goals best.

This isn’t to say that all free events should be avoided. Use your social networking tools — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and even Instagram — to keep track of conferences and parties in your area.

3. Don’t hang around with other agents constantly.

There’s a great deal of emphasis on networking with other agents in your niche. Encouraging, venting and receiving support from other like-minded professionals is rewarding, but not the end-all, be-all of networking in the real estate industry.

Step out of your comfort zone once in a while and try something new that might help expand your client base. Try guest lecturing at a local university or community college class on real estate to give back to the community and meet potential new clients.

You could also volunteer to lead a session at a local Open Space Conference or Agent Meetup to make stronger B2B connections, especially if you’re just getting started.

The key here is balancing agent and client relationship building techniques. Don’t necessarily ignore other professionals at events, even if your main objective is to bring in new business. Be polite, but don’t start a lengthy conversation.

4. Have a strategy in mind.

If you don’t have a marketing plan by now, get one. Your full strategy likely contains your online tactics for building your brand, but should also encompass your face-to-face methods and targets.

When attending a new event, do your research on the organizers and attendees. Getting the guest list is easier than ever with Facebook events, so completing your due diligence shouldn’t be an issue.

Finally, plan on who you want to meet and why so you can tailor the conversation accordingly. Discuss an article or comment they posted recently and engage in thoughtful discourse — without sounding like a stalker, of course.

5. Take thorough, thoughtful notes and use them to follow up.

Use Evernote or your smartphone’s built-in notepad app to jot down information after a quality connection is made. Don’t skimp on the details, either.

Referencing a personal story to start up a follow-up conversation with a potential new client shows you were fully attentive in the past, and therefore likely to carry that attentiveness over into assisting them with their real estate needs.

Say you meet a client who recently bought a dog or is pregnant — you can mention that in your follow-up call to help you stand out. As always, be sure to keep contacts organized and back them up onto a desktop or laptop often.

Overall, be diligent with your time. Being an agent, you’ve probably experienced the most stressful days when you barely have time for a full meal, and others when your schedule is wide open. If there’s an event worth attending, block off your calendar.

Email Jennifer Riner.

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