With the pandemic continuing to alter the way we do business, agents starting out are posed with the unique challenge of making contacts and kick-starting their business virtually.

While typical real estate networking avenues such as after-work drinks, coffee meet ups with colleagues and other in-person events aren’t an option at this moment, we’ve outlined three creative ways to network in the midst of COVID.

These out-of-the-box ways to virtually network are useful for both new agents and those who have been operating for years.

Join groups in your community

As a real estate professional, you should be linked to your community as well as the market you serve. Community groups can be a fantastic place to meet potential clients, especially with discussions usually focused around local issues and initiatives.

Now is a great time to connect with your local community groups and participate in their holiday outreach and volunteering efforts. Even though in-person interactions are limited, there is still plenty going on that you can be a part of.

Additionally, industry groups are an ideal way to connect with colleagues. Many industry organizations are still holding virtual meetings, Zoom events and more.

Don’t hold back from joining groups like ULI or even local groups on Facebook. For example, the Facebook group, NAR YPN, was started for young professionals interested in real estate business and is a great resource to gain insights on the market and connect with others in your area of expertise.

Whether you are new to real estate or a veteran, these groups provide a big pool of like-minded professionals to build your network and ultimately grow in your career.

Collaborate on social media

As we navigate business through the pandemic, building relationships digitally will eventually lead to in-person interactions. During this time of social distancing, start connecting with others online through social media.

Be sure to follow individuals in your network on Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook. Engage with their content by leaving comments, responding positively to their posts and striking up a conversation through a direct message.

Make sure your comments are not too general; you don’t want to waste a valuable connection just by sending a generic message. Again, make sure you create meaningful conversations and connections.

One way to do this is by reaching out to the professionals you admire and suggest a collaboration. Perhaps you can have them join you on an Instagram Live or interview them for a blog post. Consider timely topics like the state of the market, a Q&A on their rise to success or how they are handling business during this time.

By collaborating with those already established, you will not only gain their invaluable knowledge but also grow your network through their followers too.

Kick-start your own virtual series

Reach out to your sphere of influence and host regular virtual coffee meet ups or evening happy hours through Zoom. Encourage your colleagues to invite one or two people and before you know it, you’ll have created an engaging forum for individuals to connect during this unprecedented time.

You can also partner with other realtors and industry partners and encourage each party to invite people from their database. As an example, we recently held a conversation with Norman Foster Jones with our colleague, Mauricio Umansky. Each of us promoted the event on Instagram and encouraged our followers to join in on an insightful discussion with an industry icon. It was a huge success.

By partnering with others in your industry, you can generate insightful conversations and gain exposure with like-minded people.

David Parnes is a director at The Agency in Los Angeles. Connect with him on InstagramJames Harris is a director at The Agency in Los Angeles. Connect with him on Instagram.

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