How to Build Your Referral Business Through Events
by Shana Clarke
Like all Soloists, Jessica Fields, a real estate agent with Compass, says referrals are paramount to building her business. Beyond relying on word-of-mouth, she began to think of unique events that would simultaneously offer her clients value while expanding her customer base. Beyond Brooklyn, her signature event, aims to solve a common quandary many clients faced: they didn’t want to leave Brooklyn but various factors, such as a growing family, presented the need to look elsewhere. However, “if you have a couple of young kids it’s hard to spend all your weekends trying to figure this out,” says Jessica. “That’s where this particular event came in. I brought in agents outside of the city and other experts, such as a financial advisor and a mortgage broker, to talk about what it’s like to live in their communities, instead of clients needing to drive out to the suburbs and find out what the differences were among [these communities].” Attendance has been growing steadily and her latest one (the seventh so far), received 85 RSVPs.
She attributes several factors to the events’ success and counts the educational component as one of the main drivers. Her events are free and she wants attendees to feel like they are gaining something without spending any money.
Not only do they feel like they gained something, but it builds trust between them and Jessica. Jessica says focusing on building rapport, rather than outright selling yourself and your services, also leads to a positive outcome.
Here, Jessica offers 5 tips for hosting a successful event:
There’s No Such Thing as Too Much Planning
“Imagine what the event is going to be and plan for every different scenario,” says Jessica. “Sometimes you don’t think about the unexpected. The very first event that we did we were hoping to have 5 people show up; we didn’t really know what was going to happen. As it turned out, we had to start turning people away…. That’s obviously a good problem but it’s still a problem. Having a game plan for the unexpected is important.”
“People always like free things; it doesn’t hurt to create something to give to people that’s a reminder of you and what you do,” says Jessica. “We created a handbook that people can hold onto about the process of doing a real estate transaction, whether it be a rental, a purchase, a sale. It’s something they can keep on their bookshelf for whenever they’re ready to do it. [The information] doesn’t change dramatically over time, but it puts all those appropriate questions in front of them. It doesn’t have to be a free pen, it can be something that makes you an authority on something.” In addition, having a tool with your business’ name on it keeps you top of mind for when the client is finally ready to start working with you.
Document the Event
For future events, Jessica is considering hiring a professional photographer or videographer to extend the life of the event. These images can be used to promote future events or share with clients that were unable to attend. She also notes they’re great for self-assessment and allows you to review your presentation skills.
RSVPs and Thank You’s
Different moments of communication help build a relationship, even if a potential client isn’t able to attend. A general rule of thumb is that (free) events have a 50% drop-off rate from the RSVP count; asking for and acknowledging an RSVP “might be the only moment you have to interact with them,” says Jessica. Collecting their contact details and “having the ability to get in touch with them or have a conversation after, or even before, can be really helpful,” she says. Post-event, Jessica emails each attendee to thank them coming. She also contacts the people who didn’t make it, “to say, ‘we recognize that you didn’t make it, is there some information we can help you with?’”
Hold a Postmortem
Jessica says she learns from each event and taking the time to dissect the different elements helps her build on their successes. She advises holding the recap shortly after as to not forget any details or points of discussion.
Jessica knows finding that pool of people to start off your referral business is a challenge faced by many Soloists. For her, the events are a way to provide potential clients with value while at the same time demonstrating her expertise. Through the events, she is able to help clients solve a problem, thus laying the groundwork for a trusted relationship. The follow-up keep her top of mind as well, so when the time comes for a client to buy or sell, they know to turn to her for the next stage in their life.
Interested in working with Jessica? Contact her at www.prefer.com/jessica-fields.