Relationships are crucial to the success of an independent agent. The more people you know and the better rapport you have with them, the easier it is to generate leads and build up your customer base. That’s why networking is essential — especially when those connections create professional overlaps.
A particularly valuable connection is one between an independent agent and a real estate agent. These are two key people in a customer’s home ownership journey, so it makes sense for there to be some familiarity between these professionals. In the best cases, the insurance agent and realtor support each other and refer customers to one another.
Why Realtors Make Excellent Contacts
“Real estate agents are fantastic networkers,” Katie Wilmoth at Smart Choice writes. “They also spend a lot of face time with their clients, and usually keep lists of recommended resource providers for all kinds of things for new homeowners.” Becoming one of their main contacts means you’re likely to have a consistent stream of new leads coming your way.
Say for example they just sold a property to someone. There’s a good chance that person will be interested in homeowners insurance and want to know the types of coverage available. If you’ve established a strong relationship with the realtor, referring their new customer to you would be the logical move. And because the realtor referred them to you, this tends to make it easier to gain the customer’s trust.
The team at Insureon Solutions adds that reciprocal relationships like these have zero acquisition costs. You’re simply spending time building rapport and getting to know real estate agents, and there’s essentially no financial expenditure involved. This makes it one of the top lead generation strategies there is from an ROI standpoint. As long as the relationship exists, you can expect leads.
How to Connect with Local Realtors to Drive Business
So, what are some practical techniques you can use to build professional bonds with realtors in your area?
First, it should be noted that there are approximately two million active real estate licensees across the US in 2018, according to the Association of Real Estate License Law Officials. This means there are plenty of opportunities out there for independent agents and likely multiple realtors to connect with in your immediate area.
It’s just a matter of developing an effective networking strategy and providing realtors with incentive to refer you to their customers. Here are some helpful tips that should help you with this.
1. Attend Local Events
Face-to-face networking events are still one of the best ways to meet industry professionals, says John F. Carroll, CEO of insurance marketing resource Insurance Splash. They’re ideal for forming key partnerships with realtors in your area and give you a chance to get to know people beyond the surface level.
Attending these events on a regular basis is a good habit to get into. Start with Chamber of Commerce events and join local business networking groups, Carroll advises. You can also network at charity events, mastermind groups and school board meetings.
There are also several websites that can help you find relevant happenings in your area including Meetup, Eventbrite and Eventful. Search by category looking for anything real estate related where there could be potential networking opportunities.
While networking, don’t always make insurance the focal point of your conversation, Carroll advises. Insurance can be boring and not something that everyone wants to discuss right off the bat. So you certainly don’t want to force it, but rather wait for the right moment to segue into insurance talk.
During an event, try to meet a total of five or six people, adds Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com. Give each person your complete attention during your conversation. Building a legitimate connection with a handful of individuals tends to be more effective than trying to talk with everyone in the room.
2. Follow Up Promptly
The Precise Leads team says it’s important to not wait too long to follow up with a connection after meeting them. Exchanging business cards and email addresses is great, but probably won’t amount to much if you don’t actually follow up.
They recommend sending an email, a LinkedIn connection request or picking up the phone and calling soon after an event. Career expert Alison Doyle says that following up within 24 hours is generally a good time frame to aim for. This gives people a chance to catch their breath but not forget about you.
Recap the highlights of your conversation to give the person a point of reference, and offer something of value, such as a useful article or introduction to a contact, before asking for a favor. This sets the stage for continued interaction.
3. Leverage Online Resources
In-person interactions tend to be best for making genuine connections. But you certainly don’t want to overlook the digital realm. This can potentially lead to high-value relationships as well.
LinkedIn is usually a good starting point. Search real estate agents to see the profiles of realtors in your area. Reach out to those that seem like a good fit for networking. Besides location, for instance, they may have similar interests, skills, endorsements and accomplishments. When it comes to sending the perfect LinkedIn request, digital marketing expert Larry Kim advises following the five P’s. You must be:
Once you connect online, the American Agents Alliance suggests taking it one step further and inviting some of your top LinkedIn connections to interact in person as well.
Another great tool for finding local real estate agents is Zillow’s Agent Finder. Just enter your ZIP code, and it will provide you with a list of featured agents along with their contact information.
Marketing performance strategist Rebekah Radice says Twitter Advanced Search can also be helpful. You can use it to search for very specific criteria for a list of potential contacts. Follow those that look promising, and tweet or message them directly.
4. Demonstrate Your Value
A vital final phase is to prove why you’re an asset to a realtor. There are probably several independent insurance agents trying to strike partnerships with real estate agents in your area, writes the team at Insureon Solutions. So it’s important that you stand out.
In order to do this, you can quote a real estate agent in your blog post, and add links to their content on social media. You can ask to interview them by email or in person and feature them in a video. These are all potential ways to reach out digitally and initiate the cycle of reciprocity.
Beyond that, you should be on the lookout for potential leads you could send their way. If you have a long-standing relationship with a customer interested in buying a home, you could recommend the realtor you’ve recently networked with. Sending a quality lead builds instant rapport and they would likely return the favor.
It’s all about having the attitude that “Giver’s Gain,” business coach Wendy Nolin writes. Being the one to give to someone else first in this manner makes it so they naturally want to reciprocate, which is a win-win for everybody.
Building the Agent to Agent Connection
A partnership between an independent insurance agent and a real estate agent is a natural fit. Establishing rapport and building trust puts both parties in a position that’s mutually beneficial. And the more contacts you gain, the more leads you’ll generate.
So if you’re looking to grow your insurance company through networking, realtors should be at the top of your list.
Images by: stockbroker/©123RF.com, edhar/©123RF.com, lightpoet/©123RF.com