Nicole Slaughter Graham is a freelance journalist and writer based in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Working Community Connections for Referrals
Networking with other business owners can lead to a wealth of business, but you need to have the right approach to these relationships. One agent explains how a routine dentist appointment led to two sales.
May 2, 2018
At a routine visit to the dentist, Jickson Chacko reclined in the exam chair, listening to the familiar sounds of clanking tools. He told a joke about office politics, and his dental hygienist, Osman Nasreldin, and Nasreldin’s assistant laughed. Then Chacko, a sales associate with HomeSmart Realty Group in Greenwood Village, Colo., said he was in the real estate business and gave his hygienist a business card. “My hygienist and his assistant just kind of looked at each other,” Chacko recalls, “and that’s when he told me he was interested in buying a new home but had no idea where to start.”
Chacko immediately went to work while Nasreldin poked around in his mouth. “I pulled out my phone and tapped on my RPR app,” Chacko says, referring to Realtors Property Resource®, a property database designed for easy access to a plethora of market information. Chacko searched in the immediate neighborhood, showing Nasreldin three homes available for sale—all from the comforts of the dentist’s office. Nasreldin viewed the photos and specs on each house. “I then asked for his email so I could send him information on the house he was renting at the time,” Chacko says.
After a brief email exchange, Chacko took Nasreldin on as a new client. Soon, even as they were still working through Nasreldin’s transaction, the dentist referred a friend to Chacko. In 60 days, Chacko helped both clients purchase a property, the two deals totaling $625,000.
Chacko credits his dedication to networking and fostering long-term relationships with local community leaders for landing the deals. “Real estate has become a way of life for me. It isn’t just what I do; it’s a part of who I am,” he says. It’s an example of why building connections with other entrepreneurs and small-business owners can lead to a wealth of new business.
Chacko looks at relationship building as a long-term investment. “I don’t go into these relationships with the intent of getting a sale. It isn’t about that,” he says. He makes it a point to get personal with the people he meets, staying in regular contact to nurture the connection. “People aren’t always looking to buy or sell a property,” he explains. He realizes other businesses are probably seeking referrals from these community leaders as well, so his intention is to lessen the pressure. “I genuinely care about people, and I realize that my community and I grow together. For that reason, I give freely.” Information, tools, contacts—Chacko gives any information he thinks might be useful to members of his community. Doing so allows him maintain dialogue with his connections, and as a result, he stays at the forefront of people’s minds when they are ready to buy or sell.
Chacko also lives by a personal code of authenticity, vowing never to enter into any relationships, whether business or personal, unless he’s going to give his full attention and effort. He makes it a point to give the best of himself and expects the same from others in return. “People are always watching and listening, so my network always has the potential to grow,” he says. It’s important, therefore, to treat everyone with respect, Chacko adds.
After an initial connection is made, Chacko invests time in learning about his contact’s interests, family, and priorities. He makes sure to be open and available to people, even if their needs aren’t related to real estate. This, he says, fosters trust—and that’s the number one component in any relationship.
For agents who want to make long-lasting community connections, Chacko has a few suggestions. “Approach everyone from a place of authenticity,” he says, “and realize that you are a part of the community you’re trying to reach. So focus on building everyone else up, and it will come back to you in positive ways.” It’s also important not to overwhelm prospects with a flood of information, Chacko says. “I pull up RPR all the time. It’s a great jumping-off point for personalized service.”
He emphasizes that the app is a great way to show clients the resources to which he has access. But, he notes, it isn’t a substitute for human interaction and putting in the hard work that comes with the job. “I tailor everything to the needs of my clients once we get started. RPR is a great way to pull up a little information without overwhelming someone, but once we get down to business, I’m really hands-on.”
He also notes that if an agent approaches building a community network like he or she would approach a friendship, the growth will start to happen on its own. “Your network will do the work for you in the end. If you show that people can trust you and that you’re genuine, the referrals will come. People will talk about you, and your business will grow.”