Person-to-person networking is one of the most important tasks you must do as a real estate investor and syndicator. The wider and stronger your network is, the more deals you can do, the faster you can raise money, and the sooner you can achieve your financial goal. Networking will keep your business thriving and your portfolio expanding. One way to build your network in this industry is by hosting a meetup.
Dan Handford, a real estate entrepreneur, managing partner with PassiveInvesting.com, and good friend of mine is an expert in meetups. As the founder of Multifamily Investor Nation, a nationwide group of over 35,000 multifamily investors and apartment syndicators, he has developed a system to conduct meetups in various parts of the country. He and I talked about some strategies for starting and sustaining meetups in one of our podcast episodes. And I’d like to share them with you in this post. You may listen to the full conversation here.
What is a meetup and why should I attend one?
A meetup is a gathering of people with a common interest. A real estate meetup is an event that allows real estate investors to get together, learn, and talk about real estate investment. In these in-person gatherings, you can find local, trustworthy people that you can potentially partner with in investing. It provides an opportunity to network and creates relationships that can inform future investments.
“Networking is a very vital piece to the whole syndication route. One of the things that you can do to be able to network is to create networking opportunities such as meetups,” says Dan.
Where can I find a real estate meetup in my area?
Look for a local REI Club in your city. You may search websites to help you find local meetups. “The most popular platform for meetups is Meetup.com. That’s the platform that we leverage as well,” shares Dan.
Meetup.com is a website for locating and starting meetups. Use the search box to find meetups in your particular area. Dan’s group, Multifamily Investor Nation, has meetup groups organized in various cities that can be found on meetups.com. “The website does charge a fee when you’re hosting your own meetup but it’s nominal for the amount of value that you will get by hosting one of these meetups,” he adds.
Strategies and tips on organizing a meetup
Dan shares lessons learned from conducting his meetups as well as some tips to help ensure your success in organizing your own.
#1 Good location
Search for a location that is easily accessible for most attendees, has ample parking space with a reasonable parking fee and is situated in the better and safer part of the city or town. Avoid shabby buildings and go for more professional, business-appropriate settings.
“Location is a very vital piece to the whole meetup. Trying to host a good meetup is finding a good location. I suggest finding a location that you think would do well. Try it for a couple of meetings. If you don’t feel you’re getting the attendance, then change the location to a different area. The nice thing about locations is that you can change them fairly frequently and very often,” advises Dan.
#2 Bring two components to every meetup
“You need to have the component of allowing people to be introduced to each other or meet one another. Allot time for participants to talk to each other and get to know each other a little more. The more somebody feels part of the group, the more they will feel attached to it and the more they will want to show up. So, you want to make sure that you give that opportunity,” suggests Dan.
Typically, in a one-hour meetup, the first fifteen to twenty minutes are allocated for networking. As attendees arrive, they will fill out and wear a name badge. Allow and encourage them to walk around, talk to and get to know each other, and exchange information.
“One of the things that you can do to keep your meetups stickier is by creating some education component to your gathering instead of just being networking. That way, people can see different topics that are going to be covered and it will attract them to your particular session,” recommends Dan.
Having a topical meetup where a particular subject in real estate will be discussed will make it more appealing for potential attendees. You’re giving assurance to the participants that they will learn and take home some knowledge, in addition to connections, when they attend your meetup.
Bonus Tips on Content:
- Create a content calendar, preferably a twelve-month calendar, detailing the topics to be discussed for each meetup. This will pique the interest of potential attendees and keep attendance up.
- Create a one-sheet FAQ for each topic to serve as a guide and prompts for discussion and encourage engagement.
#3 Build your Meetup Team
Have multiple co-organizers or hosts in a meetup
Dan recommends assigning at least two co-organizers in a meetup, with three or four being even more ideal. “When you have multiple co-organizers, you’re assured that the meetup will proceed even if one organizer, for some reason, suddenly can’t make it,” he adds. This backup system allows you flexibility and gives you confidence that you can deal with emergency situations.
Find co-organizers from among the participants in your initial meetups. You’ll be able to single out people who show enthusiasm and eagerness to participate and get involved. Tap these people to be your co-organizers.
Dan suggests: “Ask them – Would you mind helping me? I’m hosting these meetups every month. I will pay for all the expenses but I need somebody to help me.” Initially, you can give them the responsibility of doing simple tasks such as reading announcements, making introductions for you or your guests, writing name badges, assisting with presentations, etc. until they gain the confidence to lead the meetups themselves.
Train your co-organizers
Dan conducts a monthly webinar with all of his co-organizers to give training on a particular topic that will be discussed in the month’s meetup.
“We go through the contents of the presentation, discuss possible questions and I coach them on how to answer those questions,” he shares.
If you’re a newcomer in real estate or you don’t have the confidence to speak before an audience, you can invite other guests to your meetup. He or she can be a local multifamily broker, a banker, a tax lawyer, a contractor, or an expert in a field related to real estate. This setup will still allow you to gain exposure and be known as the host. You will also enjoy the benefit of knowing everybody in the group and expanding your network. As you host more meetups and learn more about real estate investing, you’ll eventually gain the confidence to talk about a subject and become an expert in it as well.
Another option is to join one of Dan’s groups where they will provide content and coaching for you so you will be more confident and competent to host your own meetup.
#4 Be Consistent
Be consistent with the time, schedule, and frequency of your meetup.
“The more consistent you can make your meetup, the easier it is for your members to remember without having to go and search at Meetup.com platform. They know every Tuesday at 7:00 PM or every first Saturday breakfast or whatever it is,” says Dan.
Consistency helps your attendees to form a habit which is a key to maintaining attendance at your meetups. With your regular meeting, they will feel that you are a steady, constant presence that they can count on. It also allows you to build the momentum you need to accomplish your goals.
Dan recommends a regular monthly meetup or a more frequent schedule if you have the ability and the time. Your network grows faster the more often you hold meetups as you build your self-confidence and strong rapport with the people in your group.
#5 Provide additional value
Make your meetups even more worthy of your attendees’ time by providing additional value. This may come in the form of discounts in ticket prices to larger investing events or access to an e-course, webinar, or book. You may even partner with local vendors that will extend discounts to members of your group in exchange for product promotion. “If you could start to leverage those types of relationships, it allows you to provide more value to the group,” cites Dan. When you provide more value, you will gain more support and loyalty from your members and they will want to come back and work with you.
#6 Be Prepared for Any Outcome
“One of the biggest things that will probably shock you is the number of people that show up versus the number of people that register. I would usually plan for about a quarter to a third of those who registered to show up,” tells Dan. It is generally difficult to estimate attendance in meetups. Sometimes this may lead to frustration and discouragement. While you can never predict the exact number of people who will show up, it is always best to be prepared, physically and psychologically, for all eventualities.
Some additional paid systems are being considered to make meetups more worthwhile for hosts and group members, such as charging more in membership dues to be able to include meals at each meeting or instituting a yearly premium membership fee for exclusive access. However, these are still new ideas and need to be tested, says Dan.
Building a connection based on trust and mutual respect stems from personal interactions that you can find in meetups. You may have reasons not to take the first step to start your meetup, but anyone willing to be patient and put in the work will surely attract leads for a long-term successful business relationship.
Have you thought about building your wealth in real estate investing? Life Bridge Capital is here to guide you. If you’re interested, you can email [email protected] and we’ll schedule a call.