SKIRTworking-How to Network Using SKIRT
(Sharing Knowledge Information and Resources Together)
By Michelle Balog
Six years ago I started a referral networking group with two other like-minded women. I am a real estate agent, Michelle Alberda is a financial planner and Stacey Fleece is a mortgage banker. I was hosting an open house in San Francisco’s SOMA neighborhood when two beautiful ladies walked into my listing. They introduced themselves, looked around, asked some questions and were on their way. The next day Stacey called me to say that one of those ladies was her client, long time friend and financial planner, Michelle Alberda. Well, Michelle A. ended up buying the house and of course Stacey did her loan. After the sale closed the three of us went to lunch together and reminisced about how great it was to work together to get Michelle A. into her new place! We enjoyed working together on this transaction and realized we each knew some amazing business women. We discussed how fantastic it would be to expand our business to business referral sources with trusted individuals and long term friends. A month later we had our first official meeting and SKIRT was born!
I am a natural chatter box and I have no fear when it comes to working a room at an event. I love speaking passionately about what I do, selling real estate. In the past 10 years - with the boom and then the bust - of the market, when someone I meet hears I am a realtor all they want to talk about is the current state of the market, “Are prices stabilizing?”, “How can I buy a foreclosure or a rental property?” I used to attend an event and have fulfilling, interesting conversations and go home with a stack of cards. I would feel empowered and pumped up, but what I was really good at was essentially card gathering and offering great conversation. Most of the time, those cards were just collecting dust on my desk. I just kept adding more cards to my “business card graveyard”. I was having fun but not necessarily growing my business. Those cards just sat there. They didn’t answer the phone, they didn’t close deals and they certainly didn’t make our mortgage payments. However, it is never too late to resuscitate!
A technique that has worked very successfully for Michelle A is this. The day after attending an event she sorts through the cards she has collected from the night before and makes two categories: HOT or NOT. The HOT cards are from individuals that she would like to get to know more, possibly send business to in the future and long term would like to receive a referral from. The NOT cards are those individuals that she didn’t click with for whatever reason and those are filed away. The contact information from the HOT pile, gets added to her database for future use.
How do most people try to get business from a new person they just met whom they would like to get referrals from? Most often people take that person out to coffee or lunch, have a great conversation and then don’t see that person again and most likely they don’t do any business with them. What Michelle A. does, which is brilliant, is that she makes the HOT cool! Four times a year she invites the HOT individuals to a “Cool People Party”. This is a great idea because even if people were not able to attend, Michelle stays on their radar. The people that did attend knew they were on Michelle’s “cool” list and as they started attending her quarterly events they looked forward to it because the attendees were routinely interesting people from all walks of life. Eventually relationships started to form and Michelle A. got some new business and had a blast doing it!
It is important to know that even if you have just spoken to an individual at an event even for a few minutes, if you have interest in getting to know them more, invite them to your “cool people party”. Put them on the list! If they attend they will most likely have a great time and if they can’t, they will be grateful for the invitation. My favorite “Cool People Party” story is that Michelle A. sent an invitation to Warren Buffet. She knew it was a long shot that he would attend or even respond. She had never met Warren before but she was a fan and always thought that she would love to have his ear and talk to him about the market. He didn’t attend, but he actually called her and spoke to her personally to thank her for the invitation. It was amazing for her and a great story I love to tell. She also told this story at the next party and that made the attendees feel even cooler. This is another reminder to not be afraid to get out there and work your SKIRT!
Successful SKIRTworkers are power networkers who don’t have “business card graveyards”. Remember to think outside the box and make those connections that it took time and money for you to acquire to really work for you.
The founders of SKIRT Network are Michelle Balog (a real estate agent with Vanguard Properties), Stacey Fleece (a mortgage broker with Met Life) and Michelle Alberda (a financial planner with a Fortune 500 company). They are the co-authors of the Amazon.com bestselling book. “SKIRTworking: How to Network Using SKIRT” which is available at www.skirtworking.com.
Get out there and WORK your SKIRT! Michelle B.