How I Build and Maintain my Real Estate Network

May 16, 2015 | Career, Entrepreneurship


My Preferred CRM

A lot of people ask me for my best advice on networking. My response is simple; find ways to help others without expecting anything in return. There’s a saying that the fastest way to make a billion dollars is to help a billion people (or something like that).

While helping other people is critical, it’s also important to put systems in place to cultivate your network. Today I want to talk about how I stay in touch with my network. This is not a real estate-specific post, rather general advice on networking in a real estate context.

Often times, merely staying in touch and top of mind creates opportunities such as a job offer, a new deal, an interesting idea, or an introduction to a valuable new contact. While there’s many different ways to do it, here’s how I go about cultivating my real estate network.

Use a Good Lightweight CRM

There a bunch of good CRM (Customer Relationship Management) programs, but I personally use Highrise. It was created by 37signals and recently sold to the team who started the writing software, Draft. Highrise is the perfect tool for me because it’s simple, integrates seamlessly with the other tools I use on a daily basis (Evernote, Outlook and Dropbox) and has a great follow-up feature.

Each time I meet a new business contact I add them to Highrise along with their contact info, who introduced us, and a few notes from our conversation. I then set a ‘task’ to follow-up at some point in the future (usually 3-4 months out). Every subsequent interaction I have with that contact is added to Highrise and linked to their contact. If it’s a phone call or in-person meeting, I go to Highrise and jot down some important notes (they have a mobile app too), but if it’s an email correspondence, I Bcc my Highrise email address and the email is automatically linked to that individuals profile. It’s a simple tool, but requires consistent effort to maximize its value.

The Proper Follow-Up

With that out of the way, I want to talk about the proper way to stay in touch with contacts, while adding value to their day, and making a good impression. This is where it’s important to have notes from prior conversations to use as reference points.

Here are a few examples of actual emails I sent this weekend:

Hi [redacted],

I hope all is well, it’s been a while. Have you made any investments through any real estate crowdfunding platforms recently?

I’ve been following the space closely and recently published some of my recent thoughts on real estate crowdfunding. While there’s still no good way to compare deals across platforms or even across deals within platforms, I wanted to point you to a few resources:

CrowdDD allows you to search for deals across platforms using some basic deal criteria. The best part of the site is the blog where they provide details on the 50+ deals they’ve invested in across multiple platforms. also just launched. It’s similar to CrowdDD, with an aggregator functionality allowing you to search for deals across platforms.

I’ll be sure to send you future Atlas opportunities, we have a few deals coming down the pipeline.

Providing valuable resources will ensure your email stands out from endless flow of noise.

Hi [redacted],

How are you? It’s been way too long! How is everything going at [redacted]?

I was browsing your website and noticed you guys were doing a project with the Brownsville Community Development Corporation. I’ve been involved with Community Solutions, who started the Brownsville Partnership. They’re working with local residents to refine job placement strategies and improve public housing and safety. It’s a great organization and I’m happy to facilitate an introduction in case you want to connect with anyone over there.

Let me know if there’s a convenient time to catch up in the next few weeks.

p.s. some nice press on your Alma mater! –

Being a connector is a great way to grow your own network.I constantly look for opportunities to introduce friends who can benefit from each other.

Hi [redacted],

How’s everything going with It’s awesome to see the database of companies continue to grow.

There’s some really exciting things happening in the real estate tech world and I wanted to share a few companies I’m particularly excited:

Kira – I’ve been waiting for a product like this for a while. They employ complex data science techniques to automate the review of legal contracts. They’re moving into real estate leases which has huge potential since no one else is doing it. It’s amazing how much we pay for lease reviews/audits!

PivotDesk – Finding office space for start-ups is a crowded niche, but these guys are taking a different approach. They match small start-ups with each other and put them in space with room for expansion.

Placemeter – Another cool data-science company providing live traffic /vehicle/pedestrian counts to real estate developers. There’s so much power behind this data!

What interesting real estate tech start-ups are you seeing? Are you available for lunch next week?

While this approach takes a lot more effort, it’s effective. People always say that email is an inbox for other people’s agenda. It’s true, but you can flip the script by sending an email that adds value. This will increase the likelihood of a response and also show your network that you’re a valuable person to know.

What are your best follow-up tips?