If I emphasize one strategy for success above all others when speaking to new investors, it is networking. You simply cannot achieve sustainable positive results in the alternative investing space without mastering this skill. Here is how I personally approach networking, and I believe this model can work for anyone.
- Use LinkedIn to learn the language of your niche: Simply add the words “alternative investor” or “real estate investor” to your profile. After a few weeks, you’ll routinely receive requests to schedule calls with your growing LinkedIn network. In all honesty, I received very little true value from these calls, but I did get the vital practice that I needed in discussing investment topics. You’ll want to scale back the LinkedIn calls as your actual organic network grows.
- Go to conferences that feature a large list of operators speaking. While there, don’t worry about networking with a large quantity of attendees. Instead, strive for fewer high-quality conversations. It helps to find a commonality to discuss, such as, “Hey, we invested in the same operator. How has your experience been?” Caveat: Be very honest about your investment background, even if you have never invested in a single deal. Ask for your new contact’s business card and jot down a few things you discussed. After the conference, take out all of the business cards and email every single person using the notes you made. My first conference was a three-day event that included at least 16 hours of networking. Afterward, I emailed about 25–30 people in the hotel room before checking out. Out of that group, I built subsequent relationships with six contacts.
- Once you have four to six people in your organic network, ask to schedule a call with them every couple of months, and put it on your calendar. Send them a calendar invite, as well. Never say to a contact, “Stay in touch.” It’s so lazy, and it will never get you anywhere. Instead, get in the habit of saying something specific like, “How about a call in three months to see how things worked out with XYZ deal?” Usually, once a quarter is a great benchmark for these types of calls, but use your judgment. They can be more frequent with contacts with whom you have a good rapport, and less frequent with those with whom you don’t click as well. Also, move people you have made no personal connection with to an email follow-up list. If you notice a few well-spaced emails getting no responses, by all means, just delete the person from your network.
You might be wondering if this is different from the LinkedIn calls mentioned above, and the answer is a resounding yes.
This is because you have already exchanged emails, and both you and the investor have started to invest in a relationship. A great habit to get into is jotting down notes after every call as a starting point for the next conversation. You might not think you have too much to offer at this point, but if you listen to what the other investor is doing, there’s usually an opportunity to help somehow. For example, Investor A tells you he’s looking to invest in real estate in the Charlotte, NC, market to diversify his locations. Coincidentally, one of the other five investors you have been exchanging emails with has just mentioned that he just invested in a deal in the same city. Your job is to make the introduction and expect nothing in return. This is the trick to networking! The returns from the relationships you build will come back around 100-fold, and you’ll be amazed at how quickly your network begins to grow.
- Listen to one alternative investment podcast every day. A few of the experts featured in this book have excellent options to consider. When you hear something that genuinely resonates with you, reach out and tell the hosts or guests about it. It is common for them to provide their contact information, and they do so for this very reason. Their goal is to connect with others in their investment space, and they will welcome the chance to get to know you. Just remember: Their job is not to be your coach or to teach you everything they know; rather, it’s just to see where the relationship goes organically.
If you liked this article and wish to continue on your path in learning about alternative investments, please make sure to check out my other educational articles as well as my book, The Alternative Investment Almanac: Expert Insights on Building Personal Wealth in Non-Traditional Ways.
Disclaimer: The information presented in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute professional financial or investment advice. The author does not make any guarantees or promises as to the results that may be obtained from it. You should never make any investment decision without first consulting with your own financial advisor and conducting your own research and due diligence. Even though, the author has made reasonable efforts to ensure that the contents of this article were correct at press time. The author disclaims all liability in the event that any information, commentary, analysis, opinions, advice and/or recommendations contained in this article results in any investment or other losses. Your use of the information in this article is at your own risk.