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Getting started in real estate can feel overwhelming. You’ve probably heard that as a “build it yourself” business, real estate often requires long hours and a willful commitment to stay the course and repeatedly make it known that you have your real estate license.

As you’re finishing up your studies or are getting ready to dive into your new business, keep in mind that you may not be starting completely from scratch. When the time comes to get out there to capture leads and create your client pipeline, remember the following:

You’ve already got a lead pipeline, and you don’t even know it. Start with who you know. Your friends, family, acquaintances and even people that you run into on your errand runs, such as service or retail providers…these could be your future clients. Start by reaching out to your existing sphere of contacts to tell them about your new career. Record all of their information and your conversations in a CRM so you can schedule follow-ups and keep in touch consistently.

At first this may feel uncomfortable, but the more you do it, the more they are accustomed to hearing from you. With time, you’ll become more accomplished at converting these leads into business. While some of these contacts may feel like they are being solicited to at first, most will understand that they are supporting you in your career and passion and will be happy to do it, so be patient.

Social media can work wonders for your lead conversion. Establish your identity as a working REALTOR® through your social media channels. Use events, groups and pages to create a conversation surrounding your new career. The more you talk about it, the better your sphere will be at remembering your name when it comes time for them to buy, sell or rent.

Social media is a great tool for reaching out to acquaintances that you’ve fallen out of touch with. Use their own posts (their experiences and life events) as a reason to reach out, such as congratulating them on the new member of their family or showing your support for a new job endeavor. These initial conversations will set the tone for the relationship—reach out a few times in this manner before ever mentioning your own career, unless it comes up naturally. By doing this, when you do introduce yourself as the local REALTOR®, they will be more open to hearing you out instead of feeling like you’re only reaching out to get their business. After all, a real estate relationship that is based on a foundation of trust and loyalty will lead to a much more fulfilling career in real estate.

Community events and parties can be a great networking push. Since you already have great business-building material in the form of your existing sphere, leverage those connections as much as possible to increase your brand awareness and establish yourself as an expert of real estate. How? Make an excuse to get as many of those people together in one place at the same time. Host a party or a community event that volunteers time for a charity. Whatever route you decide to go down, creating an experience will help your sphere recognize you as the professional you are and will establish an automatic association between your name and your services.

You don’t have to be overly salesy, either. When speaking with your family, friends and colleagues, simply transition into your career in normal conversation whenever someone asks you what you’ve been doing or what’s new in your life. Instead of the automatic “nothing much” response many of us go with, tell them you’ve actually got some news to share and give out your business cards.

Your lead pipeline will create your client pipeline, and eventually your referral pipeline. As you work on building upon your existing relationships, you’ll come to find that business begins to appear. If you provide the exemplary service you promise these contacts, you’ll notice your sphere will start to grow through referrals. Friends and family will happily help to expand your business by sharing their great experience with their own sphere. While you may have to supplement with other methods of lead generation, you’ll find that starting out in real estate is not really a blank slate, but rather a continuation of what you already have.