The Secrets to Starting a Relationship with Someone You Don’t Know
As real estate investors and entrepreneurs, we likely want to gain access to people, get to know people who we don’t already know, and to grow our network. In order to grow our network, we need to approach conversations and outreach in a way that will get us a much traction in those relationships as possible.
One of my all-time favorite books is New York Times Bestseller “The 48 Laws of Power” by Robert Greene. Many of the laws can be applied to relationship building, but one law in particular stands out amongst the rest – Law #13.
Law #13 states “When asking for help, appeal to people’s self-interest, never to their mercy or gratitude.” Robert Greene wrote, “Self-interest is the lever that will move people. Once you make them see how you can in some way meet their needs or advance their cause, their resistance to your requests for help will magically fall away. At each step on the way to acquiring power, you must train yourself to think your way inside the other person’s mind, to see their needs and interests, to get rid of the screen of your own feelings that obscure the truth. Master this art and there will be no limits to what you can accomplish.”
How is Law #13 applicable to real estate investing? Whether we are having an in-person conversation with an investor at a meet-up group or reaching out to an investor who was a guest on a podcast, the more you “make them see how you can in some way meet their needs or advance their cause,” the more successful and fruitful the conversation and relationship will be.
I have investors reach out to me all the time. Some completely fail to adhere to Law #13. Other’s follow it completely. Others are somewhere in-between.
Here are examples of messages I have received that I’ve put into three categories: Bad, above average, and outstanding.
Example #1 – Bad
“Good evening. I must say I listen to your podcast daily and it is amazing. Thank you for what you do there. I am a senior finance major that is living in the XXX area. I have emailed numerous people from your podcast (Not too many responses sadly). I was wondering if I could gain some knowledge from you about the real estate industry. I know you’re extremely busy. Maybe we can grab a coffee or something. If you ever have time, please don’t hesitate to give me a call, text, or email.”
Why is this example bad? Because it didn’t follow Law #13. The first two sentences were fine. They appealed to my self-interests by praising my podcast and stating that they are a Best Ever listener. But then it was downhill from there.
Rather than offer to add-value to my business, this individual did the complete opposite – he asked for value from me. Then, he acknowledged that I was extremely busy, but contradicted himself in the next sentence by asking to grab a coffee, which would be a time-consuming activity for me, especially since we live in different states.
Based on this message, it is understandable why this individual hasn’t received many responses from the guests on my show. There is very little appeal to my self-interests, so they didn’t give me a reason to reach out.
How could they have structured this message better? Let’s take a look at an above average example to see what they were missing.
Example #2 – Above Average
“Joe. It was enjoyable and educational to listen to the BiggerPockets podcast you were a guest on. In addition to purchasing and reading your book Best Real Estate Investing Advice Ever, can you recommend a few other books on multifamily investing that you feel are invaluable to a new investor? Thanks for any help you can offer.”
This example may seem extremely similar to the “bad” example above, but there is one main difference: this person appealed to my self-interest before asking for me to add value to his business.
Rather than only ask for a book list, they explained how they are a current listener of the podcast, that they listened to my interview on BiggerPockets, but most importantly, that they purchased and read my book. Praising my podcast definitely appeals to my self-interest, but not as much as actually purchasing something from me.
However, the reason this is only slightly above is because it was only a one-off appeal to my self-interest, rather than adding value on an ongoing basis. Listening to a podcast and buying a book is great, but if you want to be outstanding, you must go above any beyond…which leads us to example #3.
Example #3 – Outstanding
“I recently listened to you on the BiggerPockets podcasts and have started listening to your podcast on YouTube every day when I cook. I just wanted to reach out and hope that we could get in touch. I currently live in XXX between Fort Worth and Dallas so I was interested in hearing about your investments within the area!”
“I am sure you have many people in the area that report to you but I would be willing and would love to help you if you ever need any type of service on your properties in the area! I also work as a leasing agent for XXX in a XXX-unit apartment community in XXX called XXX so I have experience in knowing what people want when they are looking for a new home and I have a good feel for the market and terminology for multifamily…”
“Again, I would love to provide any service that would be helpful for you within the area whether it was fake shopping your communities, taking pictures of possible investments for you, shopping your competition, being there while a contractor is getting some work done, getting rid of trash left by a contractor, or even cutting grass! I would be grateful just to be involved.”
“Let me know if I can help and I would love to keep in contact.”
The only thing keeping this message from being perfect is its length. When initially reaching out to someone, try to get the message to 2 to 3 paragraphs and 2 to 3 sentences per paragraph at a maximum. But besides that, this is an outstanding example of how appeal to someone’s self-interest.
Like the previous two examples, they stated that they follow my thought leadership platforms, but the difference is that in this example, they specified that they listen every day.
Then, rather than ask for something from me, they offered to add value to my business. However, they didn’t simply say, “let me know how I can help.” They specified their experience and what it is they could actually help me with. Since I don’t know this person, unless they outline their real estate experience, I don’t know what they are capable of doing. In this case, they said they have experience in knowing what people want when they are looking for a new home and have a good feel for the market and terminology for multifamily. Now I know which areas of my business this individual can add value to.
The third paragraph is extraordinary. After providing me a high-level overview of their experience, they provided specific examples of ways they can add value to my business.
I actually waited to respond to this message. I wanted to see how organized this individual was and if they would follow up. A few weeks later, not to my surprise, they sent a follow-up message.
With such an outstanding message and after following up, I reached out to this individual and he is now conducting boots on the ground work for me in the Dallas submarket.
When reaching out to someone that you want to start a relationship with, follow Rule #13 from the 48 Laws of Power and adhere to the following:
- Appeal to their self-interest by offering to add value
- Outline your background and your unique strengths and abilities
- Offer specific examples of how you can add value to their business
- Follow-up a week or two later is you don’t receive a response
- Don’t ask for something until you’ve offered something in return
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