Blog
Thoughts about real estate, referrals, technology and big data.

“A lead is simply an inquiry on a property. A referral is a lead that’s been qualified: The person giving the referral has taken time to ask specific questions that qualify that lead.” — agent quoted in the 2018 Agent-to-Agent Economy study by ReferralExchange

For newer agents entering the industry, leads are an important part of how they grow their business. However, for more established agents, referrals represent a real opportunity not just in business coming in but in creating a network where they can refer clients out. Many clients may need an agent outside their main agent’s geographic area or service parameters. When that occurs, some clients may feel they have to go it alone, however having a referral system that supports their sphere doesn’t just provide the agent with additional income, it delivers peace of mind for agents and their clients.

What does a strong referral business look like and how can this be a potential “side hustle” for agents, providing a secondary income stream?

ReferralExchange recently published its second referral report, and the data continues to show that doing more referral business just makes sense – both personally and financially. In fact, this year’s data showed that the value of referrals is increasing along with real estate prices.

The report surveyed over 1,800 top-performing agents who are members of the ReferralExchange Network. The majority of agents participating agents had over 14 years of industry experience and had done more than $5 million and/or 20 transactions in the past year.

The full report can be found here, but highlights of the report include:

Referrals can have significant impact on your bottom line.  While the amount of referral business varied due to average price point and location, over 40 % of the agents surveyed earned $10,000 – $50,000/year in referral fees.

  • 25% earn $10-$20K
  • 17% earn $20-$50K
  • 8% earn $50K+

Most agents are part of at least one referral network.  And, over half of them are members of 2 or more networks.  Over one third of them report that 20% of their inbound referrals come from these network(s).

Most of the agents don’t purchase leads, and for those who do, many don’t track the annual income that they earn from them

  • 66% purchase no leads
  • 16% purchase up to 50 leads/year
  • 16% purchase +50/year
  • 27% of agents did not know how much income they earned from their leads

Agents generally receive more referrals than they send out. Most agents who send out referrals are more concerned with a positive client experience and maintaining their reputation vs. the income they end up earning.  Research shows that sending out a greater number of referrals can definitely impact their annual revenue.

Timing is everything – Agents define “referrals” as prospects who are ready to act:  We asked what they think the difference is between a lead and a referral. Most felt that a referral is a person who’s made contact with the intent to sell or buy. Whereas referrals are considered “warm” and “vetted,” leads are described as “cold” and “unqualified.”

Take advantage of ways to increase your referral business

Many referral networks allow agents to submit referrals in addition to receiving them. By actively generating and submitting more referral business, agents can counter local lack of inventory. Ways to generate referrals include:

Expanding your sphere of influence to include friends, colleagues and family members. You need to let everyone they know they can support their real estate needs – no matter where they’re located.

Always ask for both sides of the business if you have a client who is moving into/out of the area. For buyers, offer to help them find an agent wherever they’re moving from. For sellers, continue the relationship by finding an agent wherever they’re locating.

Work your local connections with local vendors such as nail/hair salons, dry cleaners, doctors, etc. Many of them know who’s moving in/out of town so let them know you can help provide connections anywhere in the country.

Take advantage of chance encounters when you’re out-and-about. People love talking about real estate and any conversation – even when you’re on vacation – can be a referral opportunity

Become the local relocation contact for small to midsize local companies or organizations who might not have an in-house relocation contractor. You can provide this service for employees moving into – and out of – your area.

Improve the ROI on your marketing and advertising efforts by monetizing every lead – even those outside or your preferred price point or property type.  Consider referring out those leads. While you won’t earn a full commission, a referral can provide you with additional marketing funds.

Your real estate business is bigger than you think. ReferralExchange matches your clients with 3 great agents and pays you a 25% referral fee at closing.

The IRS allows IRAs and 401(k)s to purchase investment real estate, but most people don’t know where to start or how to do so.

Clay Malcolm from New Direction IRA – a self-directed IRA service, recently joined us for a webinar to share how to generate more commissions from your existing client base via IRA investment. As a real estate expert, you can also use this IRS rule to invest your own SEP IRA or Solo 401(k).

Two benefits of self-directed IRAs benefits for you and your business. The first benefit is to be aware that by putting your real estate expertise to work within your own traditional/ROTH IRA, SEP IRA, SOLO 401(k), or HSA, you may be able to retire with more savings and/or sooner. Secondly, by working with IRAs, you are opening up a new source of business. As a real estate professional, this knowledge base can allow you to create more business out of the same relationships you already have. Your existing clients and contacts may have IRA money that is sitting on the sidelines, and you can help them put that to work.

Tax-deferred/free plans eligible for self-direction. Traditional IRA, ROTH IRA and HSA (Health Savings Accounts) are the three individual plans that can be used for a real estate investment — although they all have different contribution and distribution rules and different tax advantages.

Employer plans. Simplified Employee Pension (SEP IRA), Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees of Small Employers (SIMPLE IRA) and a 401(k) Plan, as long as the plan document allows for it, can also be used. If you’re self-employed, a SEP IRA or individual 401(k) may be a good option as it gives you a higher annual contribution limit than individual plans.

Due diligence lies with the account holder. The IRS does not endorse or approve investments (nor does the IRA provider). It’s important to remember that the due diligence of these investments lies with the account holder (you or your client) and their team.

While these types of accounts can invest in real estate, they cannot invest in life insurance or collectibles – i.e., any work of art, rug or antique, alcoholic beverage, stamp or coin, or any other tangible personal property specified by the IRS for purposes of this subsection. Possible assets include precious metals, public or private entities, lending and real estate. One of the key set of rules that the IRS does engage in is the self-dealing concept. A personal benefit derived from your plan that does not come to you as a distribution is not permitted.

Prohibited transactions include selling something you own to or buying from IRA, personal use of plan assets, use or assets by fiduciary or providing services for IRA.

Real estate investment choices are varied:

  • Single family and multi-unit homes, apartments, condominiums and commercial property
  • Improved or unimproved land, mortgages, lease/options, foreign property investments, trust deeds and leveraged and un-leveraged property
  • Fix and hold, fix and flip or redevelop, hold for appreciation, short sales and foreclosures

Setting up an account takes just three easy steps. You can download an application online, fund your account and acquire assets so you are ready to make your first purchase. You can fund your account by doing a transfer, distribution/rollover, former employer 401 (k) rollover or annual IRA contribution. Those procedures are not taxed or penalized.

Whichever IRA provider you or your client use, it’s important to select an IRA provider who understands these types of investments, since they’re a bit different from the standard IRA. In addition, make sure they offer free educational and technological, ongoing support services. You want to have an expert in your corner to make sure that you never end up in a bad situation.

Watch the full webinar here and learn more at newdirectionira.com.

By Lisa Fettner 
I recently spent three weeks on the conference circuit reconnecting with old colleagues, making new friends and meeting potential business partners. All this networking got me thinking about “my squad” — the people in my life on whom I rely both personally and professionally for support and advice.

To borrow from Jim Rohn, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Squad members can change over time, especially if you move on to new industries or roles, but it’s important to have the following people around if you want to maximize your growth and impact on your chosen career in real estate — or any other industry.

Mentors: A mentor is usually someone who has been in the business longer than you and who you can turn to for objective professional advice. Whether it’s calling/emailing them to ask a quick question or a more detailed involved discussion about strategy, you absolutely must have at least one. Seeking out and finding a mentor can sometimes be challenging, and often the best ones turn out to be ex-bosses or teachers. The key is to find people in your industry who can give you unbiased coaching and support. You can also have multiple mentors to help with different areas of your life. For example, in addition to my role at ReferralExchange, I also lead a nonprofit that gives away free prom dresses and accessories to northern California teens. I have mentors who help me in both of these areas.

Professional Peers: Unlike mentors, these are people/colleagues who are at a similar place in their careers as you are. Use these folks to trade advice, brainstorm, socialize and network with. You can find peers at your current and former companies, or groups/organizations. Your peers are probably the most fluid of your squad members as you shift to a new job or industry — but they are the folks with whom you will interact most frequently.

Trusted Advisors: Trusted advisors are different from mentors or peers because they have a specific skill or talent that you rely on and are often paid members of your inner circle. They can be your tech guru, PR team, strategist, etc. — subject matter experts who help you and your company be successful.

Future Members: You should always be on the lookout for new members of your squad. As people cycle in and out of careers and companies, you need a squad that adapts and grows as you do. Your current members can be your best resource for new additions, but be open to meeting new people with different points of views.

Unequivocal Cheerleaders: Sometimes you just need a pep talk, sound advice or a shoulder to lean on. Your cheerleaders are the core of your squad — those people you can turn to when times are tough or when you want to celebrate major accomplishments. No matter what, they have your back.

Former Squad Members: The reality is that people change and sometimes grow apart. Just as you may need to let someone go from your business, you may need to do the same for your squad. They are your support group, but if you’re not getting support, it’s important to bring in someone new.

While you might already have many of your squad members in your life, don’t wait for new ones to come to you. It’s important to network and put yourself out there. Offer to speak, help out at industry-related events or host a “meet and greet” lunch where every invitee brings someone the other attendees don’t know. If you’re attending a conference, find out who else is speaking/ attending and send them a meeting request in advance to connect. Try to identify different events or activities to attend where you’ll meet new people beyond your usual crowd. Sometimes the best thing you can do is take a step outside your industry.

And finally, when you are at an event, force yourself to sit next to someone you don’t know and introduce yourself to at least one new person per event. Almost everyone attending that event knows they need to do so as well, and they might even be relieved if you make the first move!

Once you find your squad, don’t forget to nurture it. Keeping in touch and saying “thank you” periodically can go a long way. Consider paying it forward as well by mentoring the next generation of up-and-comers at your work or in your industry, or become a squad member for another friend or colleague. Doing so will not only supercharge your career — it will make your life richer and more impactful as well.

Your real estate business is bigger than you think. ReferralExchange matches your clients with 3 great agents and pays you a 25% referral fee at closing.

Wondering Where We’re Headed Next?

We really enjoy traveling to different industry events across the country. It gives us a chance to meet new people, see old friends and connect with the amazing agents in our network – and 2018 is shaping up to be a great year.

If you’re attending any of these conferences, drop us a line at marketing@referralexchange.com. We’d love to connect!

February: RE/MAX R4 – Las Vegas, NV 

June: CAR Woman Up! – Pasadena, CA 

July: Inman Connect – San Francisco, CA 

August: Florida Assoc. Realtors – Orlando, FL 

August: RE/MAX Broker – Washington, D.C. 

October: NAGLREP – Palm Springs, CA 

October: California Assoc. Realtors – Long Beach, CA 

October: Luxury Connect – Beverly Hills, CA 

November: NAR Annual – Boston, MA

Your real estate business is bigger than you think. ReferralExchange matches your clients with 3 great agents and pays you a 25% referral fee at closing.

Photo by Jake Givens on Unsplash

Written by Lisa Fettner 

Several months ago, I realized that I was living my life in a faded beauty shot.  Everything I looked at had a warm glow around it, and everything was slightly blurry. Bright sunlight washed everything out and, at night, everything was just black.

Long story short, I had a rare kind of cataracts, but because of the type of contacts I’d worn for 30 years, I had to wait a minimum of three months to have them fixed. The reality is, at one point or another, it’s inevitable that we will experience an event that makes everyday life and work more difficult.

As I reflect back on the experience of living life with marginal vision, there are some valuable lessons from the experience that I think we can all apply to our life and work.

Asking for help is a good thing. We live in a world where being independent is an asset, and many of us feel guilty if we need support. I had to ask for help much more frequently. Whether it was having my coworkers do all of the product demos during NAR, or needing my marketing manager to help design a presentation — asking for help was hard. But I realized that my friends, colleagues, and family members loved helping; it made them feel good and appreciated.

Don’t be afraid to hire experts. Furthermore, technology has made it very easy for us to run our businesses and our lives, and we often feel inadequate if we can’t figure out how to do something successfully. You don’t have to be able to do everything. That’s what experts are for, and it’s often money well spent. I couldn’t create our holiday video on my own this year, so I had our designer do it. The results were much better than I could have done — even if I had been able to see properly.

Listening intently is key to a successful interaction. Since it was hard for me to see visual cues or presentations, I had to listen much harder during a conversation or meeting. I found myself speaking less and listening more to ensure I truly understood what was going on. This hyper-focus helped me identify issues and concerns I probably would have missed had I been simply watching a presentation.

It pays to slow down. Everything takes longer when you can’t see well. I had to plan much further in advance. Extra time was needed to be built into every project since I needed “extra eyes” — and I had to be incredibly prepared for any presentations I gave or panels I moderated because I couldn’t read my notes or see a teleprompter. Being proactive vs. reactive helped projects run much more smoothly and yielded better results. Definitely a lesson to apply in all of my work.

Be truly grateful.  I just recently had my first surgery, and even with one bad eye, my eyesight is better than it’s ever been, which is amazing. I’m truly grateful to live in a time when technology and medical advances make it possible for me to have my vision restored with a 30-minute operation. And while I noticed how dirty my kitchen was after the surgery, it was wonderful to be able to “see” my family and friends again – and to read a computer screen without a 175% magnification.

Time passes. When the doctor told me that I’d have to wait several months to get the surgery, it seemed like forever. How would I get through conference season or be productive at work for that long? I took it day-by-day and week-by-week, and told myself that eventually my hazy world would be a distant memory.

No matter what we do, we’re going to experience challenges in our life and career. The important thing to remember is, sometimes you have to adapt and lean on your “squad” — and that’s a good thing. I’m almost at the end of my journey — time did pass and I did survive — and I’m a better person, manager, and colleague for my experience.

Your real estate business is bigger than you think. ReferralExchange matches your clients with 3 great agents and pays you a 25% referral fee at closing.

It’s officially 2018, which means you are busier than ever — chasing new goals, catching up from the holidays, and trying not to break that workout resolution you made.

There’s only one you and only so many hours in a day, so here are a few ways you can save your precious time this year.

Hire a virtual assistant. As an agent, you should be focusing your time on doing what you do best — meeting with clients, showing homes, prospecting, and writing contracts. If you need help with smaller, mundane tasks, hiring a virtual assistant (VA) might be the right move. Here are few tasks that virtual assistants can tackle for you:

  • Data entry (e.g., MLS information)
  • Organizing databases
  • Calendar management
  • Buyer/seller research
  • Contact list organization
  • Email marketing/social media scheduling

In addition, hiring a VA is more affordable than adding actual “live” head count since you don’t need to pay for office space, training, or a salary that a full- or part-time employee requires. Start by checking out virtual assistant websites such as Upwork and Zirtual.

Use a freelance writer, designer, or videographer. If 2018 is the year you’re finally going to start a blog or step up your social media game, hiring a freelance writer or designer could make all the difference. Freelance writers can draft content for your blog, social media posts, listings, and marketing materials. If you’re not a design or video pro, a freelance designer and videographer can help design graphics for social media/marketing materials, and create videos for your listings or client testimonials. Freelancers as opposed to full-time employees are more affordable, have more flexibility, greater experience with different jobs, and work independently.

Automate your content and follow-up. Gone are the days of waiting until a specific time of the day to send out a tweet or email. If you’re not doing so already, a few things you can automate include managing/scheduling social media posts (check out Buffer and SproutSocial), newsletters/email drip campaigns (we use MailChimp), lead follow-up via text and live chat customer service on your website. Check out a full list in this Inman article. Start by evaluating which of these activities you spend the most time on and start from there. Pro tip: have your virtual assistant schedule it all. You obviously don’t have to automate everything, but setting up and scheduling a few things in advance on a weekly or monthly basis can free up a lot of your time.

Learn to say no. If you are a newer agent, this may be harder to do, but once you have a steady flow of business, you need to learn when to say no to a new listing or buyer. If it doesn’t feel right, or the client is out of your wheel house of business, consider referring them to an agent who specializes in what they need and has the time. It’s a win-win because you’re still able to assist the client, collect a referral fee and focus your time on other things — and sometimes saying “no” gives you the chance to say “yes” to something bigger and better.

Your real estate business is bigger than you think. ReferralExchange matches your clients with 3 great agents and pays you a 25% referral fee at closing.

Real estate brokers face new challenges every day in their efforts to remain relevant to agents and clients. Relevance was easier to accomplish when it was harder for consumers and agents to access information and manage the process of home-buying and selling on their own. Back then, brokers were the face of real estate in their community, handling the local advertising and marketing, as well as running and managing the office.

Today, everything has changed. Consumers and agents control the flow of business, and it’s easy for individual agents to manage their own marketing and business. Consumers have access to view and select properties and can even make offers independently online.

Since brokers no longer “own” the agent-client relationship, they need to find other ways to continuously add value. Otherwise, they will find it difficult — if not impossible — to retain and recruit new agents.

Much has been written about why agents leave/join a brokerage, but it’s usually due to some combination of the following factors:

• Splits/fees: The agent’s split is too low and the fees charged by the brokerage are too high.

• Technology: The brokerage’s available technology is out-of-date or difficult to use.

• Mentoring/training: Agents don’t feel that they are receiving sufficient mentoring and training.

• Brand/culture: Many agents now have their own personal brand, and the brokerage brand or culture might not be in sync with theirs.

Being part of a referral network and making it easier for agents to work with more referrals can help brokers set themselves apart from the competition — and bring itself to equal status if it’s a local, boutique brokerage without nationwide coverage. Top agents use referrals every day to help them support past clients or leads outside of their preferred price point, property type or area, so this is a key benefit to offer.

Because referral networks come in a variety of shapes and sizes, it’s important to find the one that best fits the needs of you and your agents. If you’re part of a nationwide brokerage, it likely has referral/relocation solutions already in place for you and your agents to use. Many of the leading coaching programs make it easy to connect with fellow “coaching members.” Other National Association of REALTORS affiliations have strong, built-in referral and education networks — The Residential Real Estate Council (formerly CRS) is one of the largest with over 31,000 agents worldwide. There are also specialty networks, such as Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, which seek out one or two brokerages per market, or Giveback Homes, which connects agents interested in community-giving. Finally, there are organizations like ours which handle the referral process on a broker’s behalf.

Your agents might be surprised by how many referral opportunities they’re missing out on if they’re not growing this area of business — reaching out to friends or family members in other cities or states, getting active in their communities or sponsoring local events can all yield increased business. Consider developing a training program surrounding how to generate more referrals or implement a “Referral Challenge” in your office to encourage your agents to conduct 50% more referral business in the coming year. You can even hold weekly brainstorming sessions with your agents to come up with new ideas.

Our firm conducts an annual survey (download required) of top performing referral agents and found that referral business can represent over 60% of an agent’s business — 50% from inbound referrals and 12.5% from outbound referrals. The typical preferred referral fee is 25%, and the most important factor to an agent when doing a referral is to ensure that their client is taken good care of. Are your agents doing a similar amount of referral business? If not, there’s room for them to grow.   

Increased referral business generates increased value for brokers by increasing overall agent success. It can also help counter the reasons why some agents leave brokerages. Joining a referral network is a win-win situation for everyone involved — enhancing your brokerage value and keeping your agents successful, happy and engaged.

Your real estate business is bigger than you think. ReferralExchange matches your clients with 3 great agents and pays you a 25% referral fee at closing.

5 Things to Do Before 2018

Now that Thanksgiving is over, we’ve officially entered the chaotic weeks leading up to the holidays – oh, and the end of 2017.

As we reflect on what we’re thankful for (i.e., our talented team, hardworking agents, incredible partners) and continue planning for next year, we’ve put together a few things you can do in the coming weeks to make 2018 even better than 2017.

  1. Acknowledge who helped make 2017 a great year. This sounds simple, but who made this past year memorable for you? Perhaps it was your team, clients, family, friends, vendors, or referral sources. Make a list of these people and give yourself a budget for how much you’d like to spend on a gift for them. A little thoughtfulness goes a long way, so keep in mind their interests or hobbies when shopping for them, and don’t forget that handwritten thank you note – those will never go out of style.
  1. Take the Referral Challenge. As you assess your overall performance, take a close look at how many referrals you did this past year – now increase that number by 50% for 2018. Look at where most of your referrals came from. If it was past clients, it may be time to invest in other referral sources too (e.g., social media, email marketing, online advertising, referral networks). Download our Referral Report for a deep dive into referrals, their value and methods for successful referrals. And use our Referral Planner to help you prepare for next year.
  1. Map out your year. We don’t just mean hypothetically “mapping out and planning your year,” – we mean creating a list or map of where you will physically be traveling in the New Year – for conferences, association events, client engagements, etc. Each year we create a Conference Map of where we’ll be traveling. This not only keeps us organized, but also helps us connect with our agents who live in those cities or may be attending those same events. Inman recently published a great list of 2018 events. Think about whether it’s worth bringing some of your team members with you this time. Our first event of the year will be Inman Connect New York in January – will we see you there?
  1. Compare 2017 to 2016. 2016 may feel like a decade ago, but comparing this past years’ activities and achievements to it is one of the best ways to measure your performance. You did after all create your plan for the year back in 2016. If there were any goals or milestones, you did not achieve this past year, prioritize them at the top of your list for 2018.
  1. Reconnect with your community. The holidays are a great time to pause, volunteer and give back as things slow down. Consider volunteering at a soup kitchen, dog shelter or host a party for your neighbors and clients. Ask that everyone bring canned goods, toys or winter coats to collect and donate. When you get out and active in your community, the possibilities of who you might meet or help (with a real estate need or otherwise) are endless.

Your real estate business is bigger than you think. ReferralExchange matches your clients with 3 great agents and pays you a 25% referral fee at closing.

Image via zionstar.net

During Luxury Connect, our VP of Marketing, Lisa Fettner had an opportunity to chat with a group of seasoned Luxury Agents about how they manage their referral business. The agents, all from different luxury markets such as Cabo, Aspen, Hawaii and SoCal, all agreed that staying in touch with their clients, fellow agents and communities were keys to their success in generating incremental business.

They shared the following five tips that all agents can apply to their daily work lives and activities to generate additional referral income:

  • Remember to ask for ALL of your clients’ business.
    • If they have multiple properties (or are in the market for another), offer to find them an agent where they’re interested in buying or planning to sell.
    • Are they planning to purchase property for staff or a child going to college? Let them know you can help find agents for those purchases as well.
  • Be an information resource to your agents and clients that contains area information and highlights. 
    • Send separate newsletters to position yourself as an area expert to keep you top of mind with your agent network and past clients.
    • Be active on social media and post fun facts about your community. Be sure to include photos of your community and area to give prospects and other agents a “true” view of what it’s like to live there.
  • ALWAYS pick up the phone and respond when an agent calls. 
    • You never know what a fellow agent is looking for. Perhaps they have a client who needs an agent, or they simply need information on your area. Forging strong relationships and partnerships will pay off in the long run.
  • Conduct a Pre-Interview. 
    • When you do receive a referral from another agent, be sure to get detailed information about the client and the properties they are interested in buying or selling. Do they want a “shark” to negotiate the best possible deal or are they seeking an advisor who can “hand hold” them through the entire process? Make sure you know the prospective clients timeline as well.
  • Get out and be active in your community to position yourself as “the local expert.”
    • Consider sponsoring, hosting or participating in local events.
    • Be the “go to” source for your local paper and broadcast stations. Write a weekly real estate column or host a TV/radio show.

Your real estate business is bigger than you think. ReferralExchange matches your clients with 3 great agents and pays you a 25% referral fee at closing.

Referral Gold in 2018

Our VP of Marketing, Lisa Fettner, recently returned from speaking at the Xplode Conference in Oklahoma City where she shared tips and ideas for boosting your referral business in the New Year.

If 2018 is the year you want to increase your referral business and make the most of your network, keep reading — and take the Referral Challenge.

Think “any” and “every.” ANY contact, conversation, or connection can be a referral opportunity, so it’s important to always wear your name tag or branded apparel EVERYWHERE. When you are recognizable as a real estate agent during your daily routines, the possibilities of who you might meet are endless.  Have some conversation-starters ready in advance.

Use your expanded sphere. Posting on social media (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn) to keep in touch with your friends and family is great, but what about your sister’s husband’s cousin’s brother? Their friends and family should know what you do so you can be their “go-to” real estate resource as well. Think of different ways to reach this extended sphere. Examples include sending out an email about creating a family tree (be sure to send it out from your real estate email address), or sponsoring a family reunion event.

Make it relevant. All of your marketing/communications and lead gen efforts should be relevant and personalized. If there’s a new single-family home for sale near a great high school or a new neighborhood park, send that information to the families in your network vs. a young single person. Simply put, people value information and resources that are relevant and tailored to them.

Be prepared for not-so-chance encounters. Not-so-chance encounters can happen anywhere — a neighbor’s picnic, in line at the grocery store, during a flight, the hair salon, etc. When you meet someone new, you can often pick up on their interests and lifestyle. If it comes up that they may need a real estate agent, don’t shy away from offering to help — even if it’s simply sending them a market report or adding them to your monthly newsletter.

Connect with your local contacts and vendors. Everyone has their “go-to” electrician, plumber, painter, etc. These are vendors that you trust and have worked with for years. Also, partner with your local professional contacts such as doctors, dentists, etc., or personal contacts such as hair stylists or drycleaners. Having a list of reliable businesses and preferred vendors you can recommend to your clients is invaluable, especially clients who are new to your area. It’s a win-win-win because you get a happy client, maintain your reputation, and send business to these local vendors.

You have to give to get. As mentioned above, referring clients to vendors who you trust, and know will take care of them, is key. An added bonus — sending referrals to these businesses will help you stay top-of-mind and prompt them to send referrals back your way. Create a flyer of local vendors to hand out at Open Houses, use in listing presentations, or send to your clients.

Network with your organizations, association, and groups. This may include your book club, alumni association, health club, homeowner’s association — the list goes on. Each person from these groups or association should know you’re the local expert in your area. Host a seminar for these groups or offer to write an article in their local newsletter.

People like people like themselves. It’s true — people like working and spending time with people with whom they share similarities. Make sure when you are posting about yourself, you are sharing your real, authentic self. Don’t be afraid to share that you are an avid hiker, love your two corgis, or enjoy taking cooking classes. It shows you’re relatable and will help others connect and engage with you. It doesn’t have to be all business all of the time. If you have a client or prospect who you know likes to cycle, invite them to a Soul Cycle class with you. A little thoughtfulness goes a long way.

Be the relo resource for corporate relocation/partnerships. Many companies or organizations (e.g., military base, small colleges, regional retailers) don’t have an “official” relocation department. Get in touch with their HR department to offer your services. You can be the relocation resource for everyone and these companies can offer an added benefit to their members and employees. Consider holding “office hours” at the company so you can be available to help as needed, and hold Lunch-and-Learn seminars for first-time and move-up buyers.

Always be advertising/marketing. As an agent you should always be marketing yourself, and in today’s world there are a ton of ways you can do so. Consider Facebook, web advertising, quarterly mailings, local radio, and just sold/listed postcards as all opportunities to showcase your knowledge and experience in the market.

Lead gen can be a referral opportunity. Your marketing and advertising will likely generate a wide variety of leads — and some may be out of your price point, property or location. If you don’t wish to work a lead, consider referring the client out to another agent so you can still earn a 25% referral fee.

Your real estate business is bigger than you think. ReferralExchange matches your clients with 3 great agents and pays you a 25% referral fee at closing.