While the conversation around door-knocking is compelling, it’s not a prerequisite for success in the real estate business, writes Teresa Boardman. She offers a variety of alternatives if door-knocking just isn’t your thing.

The conversation around door-knocking is interesting. Some folks believe that real estate agents need to knock on doors to succeed. Most agents do not want to knock on doors, and that is alright. There are many effective ways to prospect that are safe, fun and pro-social and, with so much talk on the topic, I thought this would be a good place to share them with those who are reluctant to prospect door-to-door.

There is no doubt that door-knocking has worked for some and that it can be effective, but that doesn’t mean that it will be effective for everyone or that agents need to knock on doors to be successful. In fact, I wouldn’t recommend it.

When it comes to feeling safe or being safe, we are not all equal. It might be safer to door-knock in pairs, but that could also be perceived as a threat depending upon who the door knockers are and which door they are knocking on.

It is possible to meet people and to have a successful career in real estate without ever knocking on the door of a stranger without an invite.

Door-knocking can lead to death by bullet wounds. Sometimes it can cause the opposite of lead generation by turning people away, especially in 2023 with fewer homeowners wanting to sell and more agents looking for work.

I won’t answer the door when someone I don’t know or haven’t invited comes knocking. I have watched as politicians and salespeople knock on doors up and down the street; doors are rarely opened for them.

If I treat others the way I wish to be treated, door-knocking is out

I don’t want a knock on the door from a salesperson, politician, fundraiser or anyone that I did not invite or do not know. I especially don’t want a knock on the door while we are eating or cooking or enjoying a movie or some adult beverages and a game of cards.

There is never a good time or, even, a better time to call me or to stop by.

A person’s home is a kind of private sanctuary and a safe place. We get to make our own rules. We don’t have to welcome everyone — or anyone for that matter.

When I was growing up my father taught us that we are under no obligation to answer the door or the phone. He said that just because someone knocks on the door, calls on the phone or writes, that doesn’t mean we have to respond. I think he is right and I think it also applies to email.

People who sell real estate in rural areas or in suburban areas with large lots and no sidewalks probably can’t go door-knocking. It is impossible to get inside the buildings downtown and knock on the doors of each condo unit. In fact, I have worked with many condo buyers who consider living in a security building that random strangers can not access to be a plus.

There are many ways to prospect for business without ever knocking on doors or cold calling. Prospecting works best if it is done consistently and often.

Agents should not be afraid to try new things or think outside the box. It isn’t true that people need to do things they hate to do to succeed. There are many ways to meet people and build relationships.

Here are some of my favorite ways to connect with neighbors in person:

  1. Attend a community meeting and chat with neighbors.
  2. Volunteer in the community. Sit on a board, pick up trash, be an election judge, deliver meals on wheels, be a scout leader.
  3. Go for walks in your neighborhood or farm area daily.
  4. Shop at the neighborhood grocery store, if you have one. I can’t tell you how many times over the years I have talked with a neighbor about real estate at the grocery store.
  5. Post business cards or flyers on bulletin boards in coffee shops and sandwich shops. Be sure to make a purchase first, and visit on a regular basis.
  6. Leave a stack of business cards with a beautician or barber whom you know well and tell them that you are looking for clients.
  7. If you have children who play sports or music, you will have many opportunities to meet other parents.
  8. Go to the plant sale or bake sale or local art sale.
  9. Be a good neighbor.
  10. Teach a class for community education.

There are many ways real estate agents can leverage technology and social media. Back in the 80s there was no internet, which is why cold calling and door-knocking were often a part of the prospecting plan.

Each agent is unique and has talents and skills. Agents have choices when it comes to prospecting. Agents do not have to do anything that isn’t safe in order to be successful.

Some agents have built real estate empires by using TikTok, Instagram or YouTube. There are also many agents who don’t do much on any of those platforms who have thriving businesses because they have built relationships.

Even hobbies can be great ways to meet people. Let people know who you are and tell them that you can help them if they need the services of a real estate agent.

Prospecting does not have to be interruption-based, dangerous or difficult.

Teresa Boardman is a Realtor and broker-owner of Boardman Realty in St. Paul, Minnesota. She is also the founder of StPaulRealEstateBlog.com.

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