There are certain things you can actively do to grow your business through networking. As a home inspector, you may find that repeat customers are sometimes scarce. Business networking is a key function to growing your client base, whether new to the industry or trying to scale up your business.
According to FitSmallBusiness, 85% of jobs are filled through professional and personal networking. You’re 24% more likely to gain new customers through in-person networking rather than online. As a home inspector, it’s especially important to make friends with real estate agents. Clients may recommend your services to their friends, getting you some additional business through word-of-mouth. However, real estate agents are the ones who directly provide business opportunities whenever they have a home to sell.
Here are a few networking tips for business owners
- Identify your networking goals: What do you want to achieve through networking? Are you looking to make new connections, find new clients, or learn more about your industry? Knowing your goals will help you focus your efforts and make the most of your networking opportunities.
- Seek out relevant events and groups: Look for events and groups that align with your business and your networking goals. This could include industry conferences, local business networking groups, or online communities.
- Be proactive: Don’t wait for networking opportunities to come to you. Seek out new connections and take the initiative to meet people. This could mean introducing yourself at events, joining online groups and forums, or reaching out to people you admire in your industry.
- Follow up: After making a new connection, be sure to follow up with a personal message or email. This can help you stay top of mind and build stronger relationships with your connections.
- Offer value: In addition to looking for opportunities to grow your business, focus on how you can add value to your connections. This could mean sharing relevant information or resources, offering to introduce people to other valuable connections, or simply providing a listening ear.
- Be genuine: It’s important to be authentic and genuine in your networking efforts. People are more likely to want to work with or help someone they genuinely like and trust.
- Be consistent: Networking is a long-term game, so it’s important to be consistent in your efforts. This means regularly attending events, following up with connections, and staying engaged in relevant communities.
Engaging with your network as a home inspection business owner
There are many groups and organizations you can join to interact with other real estate professionals. Whether you are a young entrepreneur looking for a mentor or you want to share your knowledge after years in the industry, a number of local and national groups help facilitate networking. Find one that works best for you in your area.
You can also start your own group. If you work with a certain realtor, invite them for coffee with other team members. They can also connect you with contractors, specialty inspectors, and more. Bring a few of your own contacts too.
Whether you are talking to a homebuyer, seller, or real estate agent, make sure you stay in the moment. Active listening shows that you respect their time and value what they have to say. When it’s your time to speak, respond to them honestly. For example, if you aren’t sure of the best answer to a customer’s question, tell them you’ll research and get back to them. They’ll be impressed with your dedication to finding the answer, as well as with your follow-through.
Lead the way while networking your business
Part of networking for business owners is being a leader. As head of your company, you’re in charge of day-to-day tasks, including hiring employees. Set an example for your team about the importance of networking. Empathy comes in handy here as well – it’s one of the top traits of a good leader, according to Ottawa University.
When your team sees how dedicated you are to fostering relationships with people in the real estate industry, they’ll follow your example. Since your employees help with networking the business, you’ll be able to free up your personal time while still growing your business.
Expanding your social circle for networking
Growing your social circle is an important part of networking for small business owners. Attend networking events, join a business group, and stay active on social media. Exploring social media and forums helps discover which topics interest homebuyers, sellers, or real estate agents.
If you’ve been a home inspector long, consider becoming a mentor. By mentoring a new home inspector, you’ll build a connection. They’ll know and trust you as a valuable knowledge resource. If they’re unavailable for a home inspection, they may recommend you in their place, or vice versa. Mentorship is a great way to share your knowledge and expand your network, and new home inspectors benefit as well.
Continuing education is important in any industry. Pay attention to questions circulating throughout your network and research some answers. It also helps to condense some of your expertise into a brief, interesting summary – that way, you’re prepared to make a quick introduction when someone asks what you do.
Create opportunities to build your network
If you run a home inspection business, going to a tradeshow or establishing a rapport with a real estate agent can pave the way to many new leads. Don’t forget to think outside the box. You can always create your own networking opportunities by hosting events.
Create strong connections
Real estate agents, referrals, and industry partners can bring you business. Keep in mind that networking is a two-way street. Think of ways you can help market members of your network alongside your own business.
For example, team up with a real estate agent to host an event. Hold a tool sharpening day or paper shredding day for a neighborhood. Although these events don’t directly involve home inspections, they do keep your home inspection business top of mind among homeowners who may be looking to sell soon.
Don’t forget to give back. Participating in or running fundraisers shows that you care about the community you’ve spent so much time building. Be a leader in your business and in your community.
Increase confidence and raise your profile
The more purposeful you are about networking, the easier it’ll become and the more confident you’ll feel. Here are a few networking tips to keep networking top of mind:
Create a marketing plan
Creating a marketing plan is essential for establishing your business, and a clean website is absolutely critical. Many clients will base their initial opinion on your website or social media profiles. Maintaining your online presence is a great way to distinguish yourself, generate new virtual leads, and connect with other entrepreneurs.
Direct advertising and phone communication may seem intimidating, but the best business phone systems will enable your team to communicate quickly with customers and clients.
Show up whenever you can interact with people in your industry. Even if it’s as simple as a monthly coffee with a group of real estate agents or local business owners, these personal touches help keep the relationships strong. Larger events, like trade shows, are great opportunities for connecting with new people.
Not every event or trade show will net you a new client immediately, but they could introduce you to people who might lead you to opportunities down the road. Schedule time for in-person meetings with your existing network and create opportunities to make new connections.
What is ROR (return on relationship)?
Author and marketing strategist Red Tubin developed the concept of return on relationship (ROR). This means “the value accrued by a person or brand as a result of nurturing relationships with consumers. That value accumulates over time through the online currencies of sharing, loyalty, recommendations, and more.”
When networking a small business, you’ll see that ROR as long as you provide consistently expert advice with your network. Even a small thing, like having the information for a radon inspection on-hand for a client, can make a lasting impression. That small piece of advice might cause the real estate agent to recommend you to their next client.
Connecting your customers with the right resources, being engaged in the community, and providing top-notch home inspections are sure to generate valuable ROR.
Networking tips for maintaining relationships
Maintaining relationships through networking can be challenging but rewarding. Here are a few tips that may help you succeed:
- Stay in touch regularly: Make an effort to stay in touch with your contacts regularly. This can be through phone calls, emails, or even a quick message on social media.
- Follow up after meetings: After you’ve met someone, be sure to follow up with them promptly. This could be to thank them for their time, to ask a question, or to send them additional information they may have requested.
- Offer value: When you interact with your contacts, try to offer value in some way. This could be through sharing useful information, introducing them to someone else in your network, or offering to help with a problem they are facing.
- Be sincere: When networking, it’s important to be genuine and sincere. People can sense when you’re just trying to use them for your own gain, so be sure to build relationships with others for the right reasons.
- Be proactive: If you want to maintain strong relationships, you need to be proactive in your efforts. This means reaching out to your contacts regularly, suggesting meeting up or having a conversation, and trying to stay connected.
By following all of these networking tips, you can strengthen your relationships through networking and build a strong network of connections that will benefit your home inspection business.