Make Friends First, Make Business Second

FHA LoansThis was a motto I learned a long time ago. We meet new people everyday, but do they ever get a sense of who we are? People connect with personalities, like minds stick together.

Competitive pricing aside, people do business with those they like and trust. Here is where I would say friendship equates to trust, most often.

We pass many potential contacts throughout the day but most often fail to make the connection, which may provide our next loan source. Here's an example.

There's a small diner around the corner from my office where I have lunch at least twice a week. I say "hello" everyday to the same guy who seats me. From many an overheard conversation I concluded he owned the place. I had probably been going there for over a year before I introduced myself.

We had a quick conversation about the road construction near both our businesses and I quickly introduced myself and shook his hand. (His name was Dennis). I told him I had recently opened a mortgage company around the corner and, of course, he told me about the relative he has in the mortgage business, as well as a brief history of his diner experience. The conversation ended and I had lunch.

After our initial acquaintance, every time I went there for lunch I made it a point to strike up a conversation with Dennis. A friend he was not, but we were casually polite. Most importantly, we knew of each other's professional business. Wouldn't you guess, about six months later Dennis pulled me aside. He was in the process of buying an investment property, but was having difficulties with his loan process. We spoke briefly; I gave him some helpful information and told him to call me if he had any other questions. The information I gave him led him to ask his then loan officer some questions. Dennis received unsatisfactory answers. I closed his loan about three weeks later, which ultimately solidified our friendship. I make friends with almost 90% of the customers for which I do business; establishing that personal relationship makes all the difference.

Dennis now refers his employees to me and allows me to do all of his placemat marketing. Our friendship produces approximately ten loans per year. Dennis trusts me and is confident that others he refers to me will feel the same. Don't be afraid to take the time to really get to know each one of your clients. Talk to them about their interests and families and allow them to know you who you are too!

Small business owners are a great source of potential business. They have an enormous sphere of influence over their employees as well as their customers and vendors. Always be sure to understand your customers' business and be able to relate your services to them. Besides the crucial and many times overlooked aspect of friendship, the next key to growing a successful network is a well-managed and organized database. After you have made friends and earned trust you need to keep your name in front of people if you can't do it in person. A monthly newsletter has done wonders for me.

Besides the basic mortgage information you supply, it gives you another chance to have people better know who you are. A tidbit of information regarding yourself, family and possibly others in your network really helps to strengthen your network. A customer service directory is also a great way to give back to your customers. I've done loans for plumbers, electricians, pool companies, attorneys, interior decorators, dog sitters and many others professions. I list all prior clients on this directory who are interested in advertising their services. People find that the one thing they have in common is me.

Anyone can tell you to meet realtors, talk to attorneys and go to trade shows, but the truth of the matter is, none of that works without a solid personal relationship as the foundation. All these sales tools are more than effective in forming opportunities to enhance your network. However, a solid and broad network is built on personal relationships. Utilize the great marketing ideas to make new contacts, but learn the art of making friends first, business second.

— Jim Barry, CEO/President