Networking for letting agents

Networking is part and parcel of what letting agents do naturally on a day to day basis. However, understanding how to get the most out of networking opportunities can really help to boost business, ensure that you’re up to speed with the latest industry news and legislation, and even retain clients.

As the old adage goes, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Most letting agents would argue that this expression is outdated; after all, letting agents today need to know a good deal more about a whole raft of things, legislation and technology for example, than they did a decade or two ago. But who you know remains relevant in most industries, and the private rented sector is no exception.

 

Why is networking important for letting agents?

Running a successful letting agency is a people business. It’s fundamentally about developing and sustaining strong relationships, and while quantity is important, quality is too. Continuously finding good new landlords with attractive properties is a challenging and time consuming process. Particularly in today’s climate, with many private landlords exiting the market. For a letting agency to be successful, it’s important to have strong working relationships with landlords who supply their buy to let properties in order to meet tenant demand. But it’s equally important to be connected with the local community so that you can attract that tenant demand.

How can you continuously connect with good landlords, increase your influence within your local community, and maximise your reach to appeal to the best potential tenants? Fortunately, there are a number of effective networking strategies available to support you.

Here, we offer letting agents some tips to help you connect with more clients and raise your profile in your local community and amongst your target audience.

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Hamilton Fraser's new helpline for letting agents covering legal issues

Generate word of mouth marketing (WOMM)

Many letting agents still opt for mass marketing – direct mail, ads in the local paper and cold calling. But word of mouth marketing (WOMM) – personal referrals and direct word of mouth recommendations from existing customers – can have a much more powerful impact. And it’s free!

For WOMM to work for you, however, your customers (and anyone else who is prepared to recommend you), need to be very confident that you will deliver on their promise. They are, after all, putting their own credibility on the line.

To generate word of mouth marketing from your network, you need to begin by exceeding your customers’ expectations, usually through outstanding customer service and effective relationship marketing. You need to be taking action to motivate people in your network to talk positively about your service and brand.

Think about all the stakeholders in your business and how you can motivate them to generate positive WOMM for you – landlords and tenants are obvious ones, but don’t forget other businesses and services in your local community.

Happy tenants mean happy landlords and happy landlords are good for your business.

Letting agents who look after their tenants stand to gain the most benefit from WOMM. In an earlier article, The five Cs: Hamilton Fraser’s key soft skills for landlords, we explore some of the softer skills that landlords (and agents) need to keep tenants happy and your business running smoothly: communication, confidence, conflict resolution, compassion and clarity.

Take care of your tenants and encourage them to recommend your services to their friends and family; send them emails with a referral option included, include a call to action in their welcome pack and encourage them to follow you on social media.

To fully leverage the potential of WOMM, you will also need to tap into your personal network. You could begin by asking friends and family, or your professional contacts if they know any home owners who are looking to rent out their properties and would be prepared to recommend your agency to them.

WOMM and personal recommendations can be very effective as they are based on personal relationships and trust. According to a Nielsen study, 92 per cent of consumers believe suggestions from friends and family more than they do advertising.

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Hamilton Fraser's new helpline for letting agents covering legal issues

Attend industry events

For many people, the idea of networking at industry events is rather daunting. However, these occasions offer great potential for those willing to make the effort. But what can you do to make sure you get the most value out of networking at events?

Firstly, it’s worth identifying the industry events that you feel will be most valuable to your agency. Hamilton Fraser runs regular events offering a mix of networking and presentations from industry experts, for example to help letting agents on issues such as compliance with new regulations or how to attract and retain landlords.

Events can offer a great opportunity to network and acquire new contacts while also raising awareness of your agency amongst relevant stakeholders. Work out what it is you want to get out of an event so that you can clearly define your goal.

Are you looking for introductions, recommendations, coaching, investors or inspiration for example? Or are you focusing on local events in your community with a view to raising brand awareness amongst potential customers? The more specific your goal, the better.

Attending industry or local events can help you to develop professional relationships with individuals and groups that can benefit your agency, but do your research to ensure that you are attending the right type of events for your target demographic.

Networking for letting agents

Here are some tips to help you get the most out of networking events:

  • Don’t forget to take ample business cards that you can hand out to attendees
  • Plan which seminars/talks you would like to attend so that you can manage your time effectively
  • Make sure you can share what you do in just a couple of sentences so that people can understand what you are talking about
  • Listen and show a genuine interest in the people you talk to and retain some specific detail of your conversation
  • Prepare a few ‘conversation starter’ questions in advance to help break the ice
  • Don’t monopolise someone’s time but equally, don’t spend too long with one person if they are overly talkative – make sure you have a couple of polite ‘conversation closers’ up your sleeve so you can make the most of the networking opportunity too
  • Follow up with an email promptly after the event and be sure to incorporate some of the detail from your conversation into your message!

Join HF Assist

Hamilton Fraser's new helpline for letting agents covering legal issues

Network digitally

By promoting your services through online networking platforms and social media you can network and engage with a wide range of stakeholders. In today’s digitised world, a single recommendation on social media can have a significant ripple effect.

Professional social media platforms such as LinkedIn, are a great way for you to network, connect and establish collaborative relationships with relevant businesses in your area.

With marketing and promotion so heavily intertwined with digital platforms, it is also important for your business to be active on other relevant social networks that appeal to your audience, such as Twitter or Facebook.

Make use of relevant hashtags on all your posts and engage with your followers for maximum impact.

Read more on how letting agents can maximise the power of social media here.

You could also join online groups, forums or community pages to promote your business and connect with landlords and tenants in the local area. It is important to remember that different audiences tend to be found on different social media platforms and so once again understanding your target audience is key to tailoring your message and making long-lasting connections.