A couple of weeks ago, I happened to run into a friend that I hadn’t seen in quite some time. He asked me to come over to his house because he needed to chat with me about something. Of course, having been around the real estate world long enough to be ridiculously cynical, I assumed he was getting a divorce and needed me to sell the house. Not that he had to, but he offered me good whiskey in exchange for my time. How could I say no?
When I got to his house, he poured me a glass of whiskey and started telling me why he wanted me there. The good news is that they are not getting divorced. Fast forward an hour and we are through the discussion that needed my real estate expertise, and are talking about whiskey. Turns out, he started a whiskey-tasting club and I got an invite. More about that in a minute.
We talk and train spheres of influence all the time in the real estate world. ALL THE TIME! So, let me expand on a couple of points that are important here and will help bring out the finer points of a whiskey club.
First of all, there are few things more irritating to me than when someone in real estate sticks their chest out and proclaims proudly, “My business is 100% referral.” If your business is 100% referral then you aren’t trying hard enough! Go talk to some strangers.
Secondly, in growing your sphere, people like to do business with people they like. I know, shocking news. I have long trained that joining things like chambers or BNI or Rotary is a waste of time for 95% of agents. They are great if you are going to really get involved, take a leadership role, and build relationships. Most agents don’t do that. They show up for a monthly lunch, check in on Facebook, pass out a few cards, and then give up after 3 months. In lieu of that colossal waste of time, what if you went and did stuff you like doing with a bunch of strangers that also like doing that thing?
Back to the Whiskey
The club he started meets once a month. Everyone kicks in $30. He buys a few bottles, grabs something to eat, and encourages other members to bring snacks. They get together at his house, try the different whiskeys, exchange tasting notes, and then hang out. Different whiskeys, different themes, different regions; each month has a different vibe.
They’ve made friends. They’ve shared stories. They’ve tried hundreds of whiskeys that they otherwise wouldn’t have tried. I got the opportunity to attend the last one and it was a great time.
Back to Business
What do you like to do when you aren’t working? Can you build a group of fellow enthusiasts around that? The whiskey club started with him and a few buddies. It now has over 30 members. Do you like fitness? Join or start a walking group or fitness class. Like politics? Join or start a political group. Book clubs, cooking clubs, foodie groups, wine clubs, and the list goes on and on for things you can do.
Don’t start it to grow your business. Start it to grow your friend group. The business will come from that. If people think you are doing this to grow your business, you will come off as inauthentic. If you do “it” because you like it and want to share it with others, it will come off as genuine, you will create relationships, and the group (and your business) will grow.
So, there you go. I left the whiskey club with a newfound appreciation for some whiskeys I hadn’t tried, a few new acquaintances, and an eagerness to return and learn/taste more. I also left with a little bit of a buzz, which didn’t hurt things. Moreso, I left with the idea to grow a group beyond my normal sphere related to something I really enjoy. In doing so, I hope to build a great community. If that happens to lead to more business, awesome.
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