It’s tempting, with all the technology layers between you and your prospects, to forget that behind every email, text message or Facebook post, is a human being — buyer or seller — with fears, desires, hopes and ambitions.

  • Cultivate referrals by interacting with local business owners and organizations.
  • Use social media to share valuable content, celebrate peers and connect members of your network with each other.
  • Personalize your brand by providing a service to local businesses and organizations seeking neighborhood information, products and services.

It’s tempting, with all the technology layers between you and your prospects, to forget that behind every email, text message or Facebook post, is a human being — buyer or seller — with fears, desires, hopes and ambitions.

Your CRM (customer relationship management) may be filled with hundreds of contacts, many of whom will not need to buy or sell a home immediately. You can bet, however, that someone in your CRM knows someone in their network who is ready to find their dream home, relocate, downsize or expand their living space.

Uncovering these hidden opportunities in your network will only happen if you are successfully generating referrals. To generate referrals from buyers and sellers, you need to build a rapport with your network.

How do buyers and sellers find real estate agents?

According to NAR’s 2016 report on homebuyer and seller profiles, 88 percent of respondents purchased or sold a home through a real estate agent.

That’s really encouraging news, when you consider how competitive the real estate world is getting. It means that, despite access to instant information and resources, consumers still want an agent or broker to help them buy or sell a home.

Word-of-mouth is still the predominant way to generate referral business in real estate. According to NAR, your prospects don’t shop around for an agent much.

Seventy two percent of recent sellers contacted only one agent before finding the right agent to sell their home.

Sixty four percent of sellers found their agent through a referral or used an agent they had used in the past.

Forty two percent of buyers used an agent who was referred to them by a friend, neighbor or relative; 11 percent used an agent they had already worked with.

Buyers and sellers need your expertise

Home appraisals, mortgage rules, inspections, local building ordinances and neighborhood statistics are all factors prospective homeowners must weigh before making their final decision.

On average, homeowners are also taking longer to find and buy home, approximately 10 weeks.

Even though prospects can search Zillow, Zoocasa or even Kijiji for a home, the process toward homeownership requires knowledge and expertise beyond the scope of your average consumer.

Agents still have a key role to play in guiding prospects through the many decisions and documents of homeownership.

The impersonal digital process

The digital process of attracting homebuyers and sellers to your website can feel very impersonal to prospects. Instant messaging, mobile devices and app tools make sharing documents and communicating with clients much more efficient, but not more personable.

Lead generation software, marketing automation tools and strategic content marketing strategies are all viable digital solutions for increasing your online exposure and attracting prospects. But lead generation is not the same as building rapport.

3 tips for generating more referrals

So how are you spending the majority of your time? Consider these three tips for generating more referrals:

1. Cultivate local referrals

If you want to successfully generate referrals, build a referral network of local business owners. Get offline, and become an advocate for local businesses by offering your service in ways other than real estate.

Make a point of offering an information session at the library or community center, where your knowledge and expertise will be appreciated.

2. Use social media

Are you on social media? Use your LinkedIn profile to publish helpful tips about the housing market, as well as the successes and needs of people in your network.

Be a connector of people and businesses. Promote the people in your network through your blog or website.

3. Get personal

Engage in activities that bring you face to face with more people, but make those interactions informative and useful to prospective homebuyers and sellers.

Cultivate relationships within your network through personalized messages, whether they be handwritten thank you notes or a birthday shout out on Facebook.

Face-to-face prospecting generates word-of-mouth and builds rapport. This is why interview prospecting is so effective for real estate agents.

Your in-person listing presentation is another opportunity for you to build rapport with your prospects by demonstrating your character, commitment and expertise.

These are virtues an ad can’t convey as authentically as you can. The more often you can get in front of prospects, the more your reputation will circulate.

Grant Findlay-Shirras is the CEO of and the Local Leader Real Estate Marketing System. Follow Grant on Instagram and Twitter@GrantFSofficial.

Email Grant Findlay-Shirras

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