Who counts walking into a room full of strangers and striking up a conversation as part of their business plan?   

Most successful REALTORS®. This was the consensus in a recent survey of members of the Illinois Young Professionals Network (or YPN). All said networking is very important. So HOW do you actually do it? How do you convert your networking into leads and transactions?

Listen to this episode of the Illinois YPN podcast to hear some good tactics to move you from wallflower to conversationalist. And build that referral base. 

Here are a four takeaways to get you started. 

1. Have a plan before you go to your next networking event 

“One of the biggest things to think about, is to be deliberate in your networking,” says Brian Kwilosz, managing broker of Exit Real Estate Partners in Downers Grove, chair of the Illinois REALTORS® YPN Advisory Board and this episode’s podcast moderator. The podcast was recorded at MREDpalooza, a biannual technology conference attended by thousands of real estate professionals and co-hosted by MRED and Illinois REALTORS®. 

“It’s really easy for anybody to go to an event and just wander around and not get real value out of it, says Brian. “Your networking starts before you get out to the venue. Be deliberate and know who you want to meet.” 

Brian advises to start by looking at where you might have gaps in your business, whether it be with vendors or REALTOR® connections in other parts of the state. Know if you need to meet a painter or contractor, deliberately set out to meet one. The same tactic can be used for REALTOR® events.  

“If you have family members or friends in a different area of the state where you might want to build a referral base, what a great opportunity to find someone who lives in that area,” says Brian. 

2. Use REALTOR® events to build your referral base

Don’t avoid events that just have REALTORS® at them, says Connie Vavra, managing broker of RE/MAX Professionals in Bolingbrook and past chair of Mainstreet Organization of REALTORS® YPN.  

“I don’t put money into marketing outside of building my business through a referral base,” says Connie. “All my business comes from family, friends, other REALTOR® members, and other industry partners that I have networked with.” 

How do you turn these connections into referrals? It’s all about building the relationship.   

“I think a lot of people these days whether its real estate related or not feel that sense of its automatically going to come to you,” explains Connie.  “That’s not how it’s going to go. There needs to be a two-way street for that.”  

She adds: “It can be as simple as finding them on Facebook and being friends with them outside of that event. Liking their posts of their child or business accomplishments. Showing them that you are active in your field and you are active as a human being.


Tune into Illinois REALTORS® YPN podcasts for more tips for success.

Learn more about Illinois YPN and connect with us on Facebook @IllinoisYPN.


3. Think about your network as your net worth 

“My philosophy is your network is your net worth. You’re only going to be as good as the people your surround yourself with,” says Rasheed Shofidiya, broker with Kale Realty in Chicago and a member of the Chicago Association of REALTORS® YPN. “So I’m always out there in the field trying to meet new people. Trying to gain new ideas and connecting.” 

He adds: “If you’re not networking, you’re not working.” 

Building on this motto, Rasheed sets a goal for himself of adding two new people a day to his network. And he gets it done in everyday activities. 

“I just network organically,” says Rasheed. “I have no set spot. Maybe I’m at the grocery store. I might be inside the gym. Even when I go to different restaurants, I start talking and explaining what I do. 

He adds: “It’s not only about me, I want to hear their story.” 

4. Yes, a business card can lead to a client so give them out

“I always make sure my family and friends have a few of my business cards,” says Christine Coleman, Coleman Land Company in Saint Charles and past chair of REALTOR® Association of the Fox Valley’s YPN. “They are constantly interacting with people, through their work or friend circles. And who better to talk you up than your own family? I’ve closed many deals from referrals from my biggest cheerleaders!” 

She credits her business card with a specific transaction. 

“I’ve had someone who called me off of a business card they found in their junk drawer,” says Christine. “I have no idea how they got it. I don’t remember meeting them and they don’t really remember meeting me. But there it was, REALTOR®, and they called.”