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Tips for Building Your Referral Business

by Tracey C. Velt

Linda Lee"The listing I put on the market the other day came from a WCR referral," says Linda Lee, CPA, CIPS, CRS, GRI, PMN, who is a broker with Keller Williams Realty in San Diego.

"The investment property was owned by a client of another WCR member who works in a different market. I get those referrals all the time," she says. Lee has learned to tap into the power of Women's Council's network for generating referral business.

Anita DavisFor Anita Davis, Women's Council's 2013 national president and a REALTOR® with Long & Foster Real Estate Inc. in Baltimore, the network goes beyond referrals; it is all about long-term relationships.

"You develop these relationships with people in other states that are invaluable," she says. Davis has done everything from finding a dentist for another member who was traveling in her area to helping one member’s son who was lost in Baltimore while on a job interview.

Rose KempRose Kemp, a sales associate with RE/MAX Town Centre in Orlando, has built long-term business relationships with clients who were initially referred to her through Women's Council's network. "Last year, I closed a home in Orlando referred to me from an agent outside of the state. From that transaction, I ended up listing a piece of land for the same sellers," Kemp says.

However, in most cases referrals don't come magically. Obviously, professionalism is important, but there are some tricks of the trade that can help you net more referrals through the network. Here they are:

It's all about the profile. Completely fill out your Member Expertise Profile. That's key to any referral, according to Davis. "Tell me about your education, designations, the way you like to work, the communication you use. Tell me about the experience you have within the industry and whether you've worked with your local REALTOR® association. I want to see as much of that as possible," says Davis, who reminds members that consumers see the profiles as well. "Make me like you," she says.

Tracey Velt articleKemp agrees, "Make sure the profile is correct and complete. I've received referrals from other states because I have a complete profile."

Attend Women's Council events: local, state and national. "This builds credibility," Kemp says. Plus, you really get to know the people at Women's Council, and you can learn a lot about how to get referrals.

Lee says it's important that you be present when attending networking events. "Put the phone down, dress up and do what you can to show that you know your market," she says. In addition, "be authentic and stop selling. Provide information, build relationships but don’t sell."

Davis has benefited tremendously from her national involvement. "I'm traveling to Orlando and researched to see if any Women's Council chapter is having a meeting that week so I can attend. It makes the bond even tighter. You can't just rely on the your member listing; you have to network." Davis continues, "You can't beat those type of in-person meetings."

Communicate. When the transaction is over, don't lose communication with the referring partner. "Keep them as part of your network and nurture the relationship," Davis says.

This is important during the transaction as well. Take the time to update the referring agent about the transaction. "A simple email or phone call to update on progress is vital," Lee says. And, it goes without saying that you must provide top-notch customer service to all of your referrals. Word spreads fast through the network, and those with stellar customer service will get repeat business.

Have a giving heart. "Give without expecting to receive," Lee advises. "Be a volunteer leader to improve your industry and the organization, not to get business. If you do this, the business will come." Kemp found that the more you use the system, the more referrals you’ll receive. "You have to give. Use the network to help others, and it will come back to you in spades."

Build a social media presence. In addition to your member profile, keep your social media up to date and professional while still letting your personality shine through. "Don't post listings," Lee says. "Post tips for consumers and provide information that they need." She says this will show other REALTORS® that you are dedicated to customer service.

For Davis, her involvement in Women’s Council has helped her build friendships with members all over the state. "At least 80 percent of my business is referral, and about 27 percent of that is through Women's Council. I have members with whom I refer back and forth, and we’re also best friends." Now, that's a benefit you can take to the bank!

Tracey C. Velt is an Orlando-based freelance writer specializing in real estate and business.

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