If your business isn’t currently driving referrals, you’re missing out. Former Million Dollar Listers David Parnes and James Harris share their top seven tips for building a thriving referral network.

This post was last updated Feb. 23, 2023.

When you receive referral business, that means your clients are coming right to you — you don’t have to seek them out or court anyone. Referrals are everything when it comes to building a sustainable real estate business, expanding your network (and opportunities), and creating momentum.

Instead, they arrive right in your inbox, on your phone or in your DMs. You just need to create a relationship with the new client and deliver the same quality experience that they sought you out for in the first place.

If your business isn’t currently driving referrals, it’s something to consider closely and examine why this might be the case — and it’s never too late to turn it around. Here are our seven tips for building a thriving referral network and bountiful business.

1. Provide referral-worthy service and results

It’s a simple first step: Be worth a referral. Create such a great experience for every client — no matter their price point or timeline — that they’ll go on to refer you to their friends and family. If your service is mediocre, you likely won’t have raving fans. Deliver for each client, and great things will come your way.

2. Build authentic relationships

Sure, fake it till you make it is valid advice — but not when it comes to your personality. Showing up as your authentic self is key to attracting the right customer and meeting their expectations.

This doesn’t mean that you only want customers who are similar to you. It means that you need to be able to connect with them in an honest way no matter who they are.

Find that commonality or that shared experience. This takes some vulnerability and courage. You’re not an actor on a stage — you’re a human taking on an important role in another person’s life. Being you is your superpower. Your clients will feel it and love you for it.

3. Get your event game on

The power of an event is often overlooked by agents. Gatherings are ways to invite people to connect with you, create a positive experience and have some control over who, what, when and where.

Whether it’s a holiday party, a casual happy hour, an educational get-together or a fundraising event, give your network the opportunity to remember that you’re a resource in their life.

You’re also giving yourself the space to provide value and have conversations with potential clients. If you have the space, encourage everyone in attendance to bring a guest themselves — more people means more potential business.

4. Close with a heartfelt gift

Make sure to cover the love languages with your clients, including gifts! Giving a heartfelt closing gift can really make an impression — especially if it’s thoughtful and customized.

This requires you to really get to know your clients. Listen to them carefully throughout your time together, and try to pick up on what they like to do, what their style is and how they might want to curate their new home.

It’s a gesture that can go a long way. Plus, if friends and family see this object in their home and ask about it, you’ll be part of future conversations and (hopefully) introductions.

5. Get your timing right

Testimonials and ratings are a great way to prove to future clients that you have what it takes. Ask your clients to provide this information at a high moment — shortly after they close on their purchase or sale.

Emotions are still running high, and they are in the full swing of appreciating you, likely more than they ever will. This is the time to ask them. Be genuine in the way you do it, and let them know how much it means to you and how testimonials and ratings are an important part of your business.

6. Stay in touch

Caution: Don’t disappear after the transaction! Stay top-of-mind with regular newsletters, valuable social media content, personalized notes or texts, and in-person catch-ups.

You want to be a name that is on the tip of their tongue whenever someone they know is looking to buy or sell a home. Continue to charm and impress, and you’ll cultivate a thriving ecosystem of referral business that will keep you busy for years to come.

7. Volunteer in your community

Philanthropy and volunteer work are excellent ways to widen your network and make valuable connections with people who share a common interest with you.

Find a cause that is important to you in your local community, and invest in nurturing those relationships with your time, attention and passion. From there, the word that you’re a great real estate resource will spread like wildfire (in a really good way).

As the year comes to an end, and you start envisioning your goals for what’s ahead, give some thought to how you’re going to boost your referral business. Trust us, it’s a gift that keeps on giving.

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

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