Grow Your Agent Referral Database with These 6 Steps

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Relationships are the key ingredient to any successful real estate business. And once you get into relationships, maintaining them is equally as important. Wilmington, North Carolina agent Carli Williams Meeks understands how the right relationships can make or break your business. When Carli’s husband’s job was relocated and they moved to Wilmington, she didn’t know anyone. Her database at the time consisted of people from her home town (in other words, not in Wilmington), agents, and a select few individuals in her new location. She asked herself which of those three segments she could tap into to help her get into production the fastest. Her answer: agent referrals.

Since making that decision, Carli’s agent referral business has grown year-over-year. It’s currently the #1 source of her business to the tune of paying out almost $500,000 in agent referral fees over the past five years. In 2023, Carli earned $372,000 in GCI from agent referrals. She’s developed a system that has helped her to build an agent referral network that anyone can replicate.

And today, she’s sharing the six key steps with us.

Carli’s Six Steps for Increasing your Agent Referral Pool

1. Add as many agents as possible to your social media friend group.

Carli emphasizes the need to be purposeful around growing your audience on social media. For instance, Facebook allows you to have 5,000 friends. However, the 5,000 people that see your content matters. It’s important to make sure that the people who are seeing what you post belong to an audience of people who you want to see it – those who can make a difference in your business. If you’re posting about information pertaining to your local market, make sure that agents around the country, your local database, and your sphere see it. Ensure that the people in your social media list are people that you know and you can connect with.

2. Research relocation trends to see where people are relocating to and from in your area.

Transfer and IRS reports are extremely important to study when you’re looking to expand your agent referral network. For instance, Carli uses Command and other websites to see where people are moving to and moving from in her area. She also uses IRS reports to show where money is located in her state, city, and county, as well as the states where the money originates. From this data, she is able to determine that people are moving into her area in larger numbers from particular parts of the country, such as the Northeast and West coast. With this information in hand, she is able to pinpoint the geographical areas where it is most beneficial for her to meet and connect with other agents.

3. Join referral groups on Facebook.

Carli finds it advantageous to join – and be active – in many different online referral groups. One key way she interacts within the group is to post that she is looking to connect with agents in a particular region of the country (using the relocation data she found in step 2!).

4. Set up short introductory meetings with potential agent partners.

Once people start to respond to her referral group posts, she takes her communications with them to the next level – the telephone. That’s right, moving away from an online-only relationship is key. Carli aims to schedule short phone conversations in every open time block in her calendar with people in areas that she has found to be geographically important for relocation to and from Wilmington so that they can start to get to know each other and learn about each other’s businesses. After all, once they connect with one another on a personal level, they can begin to know, like, and trust each other. And trust is essential when it comes time to refer business.


5. Add referral agents to the database and stay in frequent contact.

Meeting agents is only one part of the process. In order to successfully grow your business through agent referrals, you’ll need to stay top of mind. After she connects with an agent, Carli adds them to her database and tags them as an agent referral partner. She then puts them on a consistent touch plan to stay on the forefront of their mind, which includes communication like monthly newsletters and holiday cards. She also keeps track of their lives via social media and sends cards on occasions when social media posts reflect a need for it.

6. Reward the referral activity not the outcome.

Carli has found that the phrase “time on the task over time” exemplifies her agent referral business. It didn’t happen overnight. In fact, some referrals may take years to convert to closed business. However, just because someone sent a referral that didn’t close doesn’t mean that the time and effort the other agent spent connecting her with the referral isn’t important. Therefore, it’s important to maintain agent relationships and provide referral gifts to agents that have sent referrals –whether or not closed business results from it.

When all is said and done, Carli’s agent referral business has become such a successful aspect of her business because of her commitment to connect with other agents on a personal level. She makes it a point to learn about them, their businesses, and what she can help them to achieve. Because she comes from a place of contribution and friendship, they become more than strangers on the internet. And from these genuine agent relationships, business grows.

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