Every business professional understands the power and necessity of networking. Networking is the magic word that mentors and coaches push as the key to success in real estate. However, most "networking" that I end up doing involves a name tag and a room full of people I don't want to be around. It is usually some arbitrary association which hosts an event wherein I spend the evening passing around business cards and drinking mediocre wine (and that is using the term generously). In my humble opinion, life is way too short to be stuck building business this way. I have found other options which are significantly more fun and actually lead to more business.
1. Whiskey Tasting
I get invited to so many wine tastings that it has become white noise. However, I was recently invited to a whiskey tasting and that really peaked my interest! Invite 8-10 friends to your house or office and have each person bring a different bottle of whiskey. Enjoy an evening of drinks and fun with friends. I recommend bringing snacks as well so people don't overindulge on the whiskey.
2. Plan a Hike
Kill two birds with one stone: exercise and networking. Also, there is a special bond people share after they have accomplished something physically. Why do you think Crossfit members act like a brotherhood?
3. Meet Young Artists
Many networking events are focused around currently successful people: speakers, musicians, politicians. Do something different and get to know aspiring professionals, namely artists. In Santa Barbara there is the Music Academy of the West, an extremely acclaimed music academy that attracts students from Juilliard and other major schools for their summer programs. Each summer they host a multitude of shows and events wherein I get to enjoy performances and meet the musicians. Not only is it a great way to expand my knowledge of the arts, but I get to meet aspiring musicians and mingle with a very affluent community in town.
4. Car Shows
I absolutely love cars so this category may interest me a lot more than it will other real estate agents, however I have found that the luxury automobile community is a great group to network with. First of all, it tends to be a very wealthy group of people. Luxury classic or exotic cars are certainly a top 1% hobby! Secondly, this group is a community that is very open and actually enjoys talking to you. Most vehicle owners are standing with their cars and jump at any opportunity to brag about them. So my advice is to take a few friends and walk around local car shows; I assure you there are people willing to talk to you.
5. Host a Progressive Dinner
Perhaps you don't have a nice home to host a dinner or event, that is ok! Choreograph a group of 10-12 friends to join you on a progressive dinner. You and your group will end up going to 4 different restaurants: one for drinks, one for appetizers, one for entrees and a final one for desserts. It is a lot of fun and you get to experience a multitude of restaurants.
The key is to build stronger relationships with your sphere but also to meet new people. Make sure to tell your guests to invite their friends you have never met so you can make new contacts.
People Do Business With People They Like
Drinking wine out of a plastic cup and passing a stranger your business card can lead to gaining a client, but it is a superficial relationship and there are no guarantees of business. Conversely, building relationships around common interests, laughter and fun lead to real clients. Real clients are loyal. Real clients are exclusive. Real clients refer you other business. Real clients are enjoyable to complete transactions with. This is how I want my business to be!