Creating and maintaining a strong referral database can be challenging, especially in the luxury real estate market. Some programs rely on mailers. The challenge is that unless you design something unique, you may be mailing the same person exactly the same materials that another agent is sending.
Furthermore, the phrases that say, “I’m never too busy for your referral” or, “Oh by the way, if you know of someone who is thinking about buying or selling a home, I definitely would appreciate your referral” have been so overused that they are no longer effective. Luxury buyers want customization and uniqueness--not what everyone else dows.
Today, there is a much better way to generate referrals and to do so almost effortlessly. If you haven’t joined LinkedIn.com, this is one of the quickest ways to expand your luxury real estate referral database. Their motto at LinkedIn is “Relationships matter.” This site is an excellent best business-to-business way to connect on the web. Currently there are more than 120 million experienced professionals in this network.
When you join LinkedIn, you create an on-line profile that summarizes your educational and professional accomplishments. Your profile helps you locate others as well as helping them locate you. For example, once you post your profile, the system notifies you of other people who share the same associations that you do. This is a quick and easy way to locate old classmates, former colleagues, as well as to expand your current referral network
To use LinkedIn to build your luxury referral database, invite the people you know to become members. As you meet new buyers and sellers, invite them to become members as well. Once they join, you then have access to the people who belong to their LinkedIn network as well.
LinkedIn also has a place for recommendations. This means that anyone who is in your network can view testimonials posted on your behalf. This is a great way to build on-line credibility as well as to expand your referral database. For example, ask past clients to join and to post a recommendation on your behalf. When your past client posts the recommendation, it appears on both your profile and your client’s profile. Thus, if a friend of your past client is looking for a real estate agent and sees the recommendation, there’s a high probability that you will receive that referral with little or no effort on your part.
Like other social networking sites, one of the best ways to use LinkedIn is to ask and answer questions. For example, some questions you might ask are, "What is the most expensive home sale in the last 12 months?" An even better approach, is to ask an open ended question. "If you are purchasing a luxury property, what would be the most important features that you would want in your home?"
LinkedIn system also makes recommendations about other people that you may know. I was surprised when the system offered to introduce me to my sister-in-law who is an IT professional in another state. Furthermore, even though I haven’t been very diligent about using the system, my 416 “connections” could link me to over 6.4 million other professionals. For you as a luxury agent, this translates into a wealth of potential referrals, both locally, nationally,and internationally. By connecting, you now have the ability for others in your network to refer business to you. This is especially useful if your contacts have left the area and still have friends and family where you work. Alternatively, you can also refer business outside your market area as well.
If you’re not linking up your clients with LinkedIn, you’re missing one of the most important opportunities today to generate referrals, post testimonials, and grow your on-line credibility.
Posted by Bernice Ross, please join us this week on RealEstateCoachRadio.com to hear John Esplana, the co-founder of Work Smart, Be Smart for our Five Part Series on “The Fortune Is in the Follow-up.”