Having run a real estate club since 1994 with 650 members and having attended 50 or more other clubs around the country to speak at, I have a few observations and insights. If you want to get the most out of a real estate club, follow these 5 rules…
Get What You Can From Every Speaker
Real estate clubs are often under-funded and not-for-profit. As such, they cannot afford to pay professional speakers a fee to speak, so most speakers who volunteer to do so have something to sell. In many cases, it is a book, tape set, mentoring or boot camp. Some people are “offended” that speakers are selling something, insisting that the speaker reveal everything he knows about a topic in a 90-minute meeting.
Understand that everyone has something to sell, whether it is a guru selling a course or a minister selling the “the word”, while passing around the collection basket. Everyone who speaks at a group has an “agenda”, otherwise he or she would not be standing on the stage speaking. Even the most hardcore “pitchmen” do offer some great ideas during their presentations, so you need to get past the “I'm not here to be sold” attitude and get what you can from the speaker. A speaker cannot reveal everything he knows in 90 minutes, otherwise he or she isn't qualified to take the stage. So, you should expect a certain amount of stories, jokes, anecdotes and yes, a sales pitch for something. Listen carefully, however, you might also learn something!
Respect Other People's Time
Many newbies always expect they can take a veteran investor out to lunch to learn the business. Most veteran investors won't do this, unless they are fairly certain you will bring them deals. And, the “teach me the business and I'll bring you deals” attitude doesn't work. If a veteran investor teaches you everything he knows and you do nothing (or you do invest and don't bring him deals), he's wasting his time. I know this from personal experience, having taught dozens of newbies the business for free, thinking they would come bring me deals. At one point, I woke up to reality – people who don't pay for their education rarely uses it! Many people know that I charge for mentoring and I charge quite a bit. And yet the more I charge, the more people appreciate the advice and use it.
Be willing to pay people money for other people's time. You wouldn't expect a doctor to let you take him out to lunch for a consultation, so why is an investor's time any different? Keep in mind that most investors have paid thousands of dollars over the years for seminars and courses. Many feel that sharing information with others for free is simply unfair in that respect. And, most importantly, don't waste other investors' time trying to learn the basics. Undoubtedly, you have seen dozens of unanswered posts on investors sites from people asking general questions that can be found in a $15 book. Go to the bookstore and buy 10 paperback books and read them. If you are not willing to spend $150 and the time to read 10 basic books, you aren't ready to be an investor – period!
Let People Know Why You Are There
If you sit in the corner drinking coffee, you aren't networking and marketing your most valuable asset… yourself! If your club does not have big name tags, make yourself one. Make it big and colorful. Have a statement about what you do and what you are looking for. There's one guy at our club whose nametag reads, “The Mobile Home Guy.” Everyone knows him. Everyone calls him when they need to sell a mobile. Be creative and aggressive. Ask your club leader if it is permissible to pass out flyers – bring big, colorful flyers that read “I Have Houses To Wholesale – Call Me” or “I Am Looking For Rehab Properties On the West Side – Call Me.”
Get yourself a fancy business card and hand it out to everyone. And, don't use the cheap computer-printed garbage, go spend $50 and get some nice double-sided cards that explain who you are and what you do. In short, if you show other investors you are serious about taking action, you will get their cooperation.
Join Membership Immediately
It amazes me how many people hesitate to join membership in their local real estate associations. For a few hundred bucks, you get access to one of the best resources you can find – other investors. Why spend all your time looking for the “right” mortgage broker when you can ask other people in the club? Why run ads in the paper for your wholesale deals when you can send an email to a dozen other investors you met at the club? Heck, even the fact that you are a member of the club will give people a reason to do business with you versus someone who isn't a member.
I've been running a real estate club for 9 years and I can honestly tell you that I always go to the membership roll whenever I need a deal, a partner, a recommendation or money to borrow. Also, volunteer to assist with the meeting. Volunteers often get on the “inside track” to becoming a board member, which gives you a lot of influence in the club. Offer to write articles for the newsletter on your own area of expertise that may be related to real estate. If you are an experienced investor, offer to teach a beginner's class or host a breakfast meeting.
Respect The Rules
Be considerate others at the meetings. Every club has rules, so be mindful of them. Show up early so you don't disrupt the meeting. Don't pass out flyers without asking permission. Don't stand in the back of the room and yack while the speaker is onstage. Don't shout out questions to the speaker without raising your hand. Close the door to the room quietly when you go to the restroom. And, for Pete's sake, turn off your cell phone!