Networking in the 'new normal'

How one broker is networking and growing her business despite the barriers of social distance

Networking in the 'new normal'

Leanne Myles attended about five in-person networking events per month in the pre-COVID world. Showing face at industry events and in centres of influence were key to the Halifax-based broker’s prospecting and client attraction strategies. In the wake of a global pandemic, she’s had to change tack.

Myles, a senior mortgage advisor with Clinton Wilkins Mortgage team, told Mortgage Broker News how she’s managed to change her networking strategies, shifting to zoom what can be moved online and finding new ways to stay connected with existing clients and prospect for new ones. She’s encountered challenges on the way, but has come up with a number of novel solutions that, in turn, have increased her sales volume year-over-year.

“I'm calling people now more than I ever have,” Myles says. “And I think it's important to talk to your realtors, reach out, ask how they're doing. Book the time to actually do it. Set the time aside in your day, don’t treat networking as something you’ll get to later. It's literally something that I do every day to make sure that I'm connected.”

In addition to regular phone calls, Myles is using social media to widen her reach and build more connections with existing and potential clients. She’s been invited onto podcasts as an expert voice and is looking for marketing opportunities over digital magazines. Despite the difficulties that come with a fully-digital strategy, Myles has seen a few benefits. Namely, she can trace exactly where each new lead has come from and assess what digital strategies work and which don’t.

Education has been key, too. With recent rule changes by the CMHC, Myles and her colleagues have launched an educational webinar for homebuyers to teach them about the new rules and tools to raise their credit score. That educational work is both an act of client service and a means of prospecting. A broker that taught a prospect something useful will likely be the first place that person turns to when they need to secure a mortgage.

“If you're the voice that's putting the information out there and you're the one that is answering questions, it makes a big difference,” Myles says. “But it’s important that you're not bombarding them constantly with information. You need to be giving them the information at the time that they need it.”

Providing information at the right time can make the difference, Myles says, between a cold call and a ‘warm’ call. She says that few people respond well to a cold call and they don’t help with the relationship management that’s crucial for a broker’s business. She says that as crucial as phone calls are to her strategy, they’re no substitute in relationship maintenance to a face-to-face conversation. Not only are you physically disconnected, but you have a wall of other noise to cut through as you try to reach the client.

Myles has a few novel strategies to cut through that noise. Rather than calling or texting with updates for clients, she tries to send them a quick video message. That way they’re seeing her face and hearing her voice as they learn that their application was just approved, for example.

Despite these client networking strategies, Myles says she’s missing the opportunities that come from industry conferences. She says that attending mortgage conferences in years past have shaped her whole experience of the industry. She thinks that events like that, which may be virtual only for now, are still key to the future of the business.

In terms of client business, Myles is still having a good year, up 60 per cent year over year. What she’s noticed, though, is that while a shift to virtual solutions has made the business faster it’s also made clients more ‘slippery.’ She thinks that the speed of interactions and the difficulty social distancing poses for genuine human connection makes buyers more likely to rate shop. At bottom, she thinks brokers simply need to work harder in this environment.

“You just can't give up,” Myles says. “You need to keep working, you need to keep prospecting, it’s just going to look a bit different. You need to figure out what's going to work so that you can keep your business going. People that market, people that spend the money during a downtime and continue to do those things, those are the people that will survive.”