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By Cliff Baird MBA, PhD

TOP 5 POWER REPORT, December 2008-Let’s get out of the box…every box! If there has ever been a time in my years in real estate when referrals and networking are essential, it sure is today. There has already been a plethora of great material created and well-honed for working with your personal database, personal notes, pop-in visits, calendars, magnets and every imaginable concept to keep you foremost in your client’s thoughts. Use them all and use them consistently. But let’s take a look at another idea.

Wherever you live, I want you to begin to imagine how your business would change if every small business in your community recommended you as their Realtor of choice. Of course that’s not going to happen…not every business…but we are just imagining. However, is it possible to believe that some might become willing to do so if the “Quid pro quo” was beneficial enough? Maybe? Then let’s consider what the premises should be before we seriously consider developing such a business building strategy.

1. If you were to ask painters, plumbers, accountants, florists, veterinarians and scores of other small business owners, “How’s business?” what do you imagine their answer would be? Of course, they are always looking for more new business.

2. Given that they are looking for new business, would you imagine that they could be interested in other people helping to “brand” them and even, when possible, to recommend them? Of course they would.

So let’s keep going with the idea. Let’s begin by you making a list of every person you know, either first hand or second hand, who owns, operates or controls a small business in your area. By the way, that includes small entrepreneurs like insurance agents, auto sales people, financial planners and others that will come to mind. The list must also include those with whom you do personal business already. What I am not going to recommend here is to form a “networking group.”

There is no time available in this economy to pretend to prospect or to over socialize.

Rather. I am going to suggest that you gather around you 5-10 such enterprises and/or worthy entrepreneurs and focus on the following concept. If you are serious about your real estate career, then certainly, by now, you have come to realize that you must find creative ways to exponentially grow your sphere of influence. In this economy, you will have to quadruple your contact base and quadruple your contacts to them. This is not merely a great current survival concept but when things recover, as they surely will, you will have built a prodigious and formidable business.

So let’s get started with a plan. And, in the end, it is this simple. You are going to inform them that you want to promote them to your existing database and at some time in the future you will want them to promote you. Do not make your promotion of them conditional on them promoting you until you have earned the right and tell them so. For this plan to be acceptable to them you must first activate your side of the “Quid pro quo”

There is a law that governs our lives in every aspect that I have taught for many years and it is one for which there are no shortcuts: Give Before You Ask. Tell them that you are going to construct a letter that you will send to your clientele and you will get their approval before sending it. At this point, ask them if they have some special gift or discount that you can offer to your clients to include in your letter. Most of them will have something that will be perfect.

Here is a working sample of just such a letter. Obviously, reconstruct it to specifically meet your needs and the circumstances. Make sure you take a copy-don’t e-mail it-and go on a personal visit to get their approval. They will be delighted that you did.

Sample letter to your database:

Dear Frank and Sally,

I trust you and the boys are well and are looking forward to the holidays.

I told you that, from time to time, I would call you or write to you about things that I thought could be of interest to you. Several times each month, as you can imagine, I get requests for recommendations and referrals for those businesses or trades that have demonstrated they truly provide excellent service.

I am certain that if I was in a similar situation I would want someone like me to do the same thing. I really do get to meet and hear about a lot of businesses and this time I want you, and your friends, to keep this one for future reference. You’ll be glad you did.

I have also been able to get my clients a “Special Intro” offer which I have attached. They have a great reputation.

Detailed Contact Info: Business Name: Address: Phone: email: etc

Warm personal regards to all the family,
(Your Name)

Then when the appropriate time comes, and it will, these businesses will do the same for you. You have earned the right to ask them. However, you will most likely have to write the letter for them. Do not rely on them doing it. Make the suggestion that you will give them a sample to save their time. They will appreciate the gesture. I would be glad to send you a sample letter. Just email your request to me cliff@cliffbaird.com

Play with this idea and continue to think outside of the proverbial box as you seek ways to exponentially increase your sphere of influence. Your efforts will surely pay off in the short run but will have massive dividends when the storm clears.

Cliff Baird, MBA, PhD, has spent over 25 years coaching agents and managers to focus on business systems that lead to abundant success. He is the developer of The RealSTAR Online Recruiting System, which helps managers handle the recruiting process.

For more information, e-mail cliff@cliffbaird.com or vist www.realstarrecruits.com.

Top 5 in Real Estate welcomes your questions and comments. Send your e-mail to feedback@top5inrealestate.com.

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