5 Ways Loan Officers Can Build a Strong Referral Network
As a loan officer, you probably know one of the best ways to earn business is through referrals. Plus, with the coming purchase-heavy market, a strong network could be your ticket to capitalizing on the influx of first-time homebuyer business.
It can be hard to get started filling your pipeline with referrals, though. To get your foot in the door and set yourself up for success as the market shifts, make these 5 strategies a part of your weekly routine.
1. Real estate agents
Partnering up with other real estate professionals is a great way to drive referrals. Build relationships with the real estate agents in your community, and ask your existing real estate referral partners to introduce you to other agents in their office. These days, many real estate agents have large social media presences, meaning a massive network of potential connections to draw referrals from.
Building these relationships can be mutually beneficial; for one, referrals are a two-way street. Additionally, you could proactively offer services to agents’ borrowers, including pre-approving potential homeowners for their loan. This puts both you and the real estate agent in a good position to pick up a client for the whole process.
2. Social media
Don’t leave all the social media to the real estate agents—savvy loan officers are developing their online presence as well! Build your brand and increase your connections by posting regularly on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Social media isn’t the place to go sales-heavy; instead, post helpful content (i.e. tips for first-time home-buyers). Followers on social media are most likely to share information they find valuable, helping you reach new audiences. You can also use social media as a place to interact with clients in a more casual environment. Answer customers’ questions, introduce them to other real estate professionals in your community, or simply show support by liking and commenting on their posts.
3. Email newsletters
Another great way to share valuable content is through an e-newsletter. Send one out to a list that includes all current and former clients, your referral partners, and other members of the community.
Along with providing valuable content, the email will simply serve as a monthly or biweekly reminder that you’re around—keeping you top of mind for referrals!
Just be careful not to get into spam territory. Don’t make your entire newsletter one big advertisement, and remember to only share pieces that will engage and provide value to your audience. For most, this means the appropriate cadence is weekly or monthly.
4. Community events
Attending events in your community is a great way to meet potential customers. Better yet, get together with your referral partners and jointly host an event yourselves geared towards new homeowners! Any event catering to first-time homebuyers, particularly millennials, can bring in lucrative future clients.
As vaccines are rolling out across the country, in-person events are likely to resume in some capacity this summer. However, if restrictions remain in your area or you simply want to play it safe, consider hosting a virtual event on Zoom in partnership with other real estate professionals.
Your event can introduce new community members, highlight local businesses, and strengthen your relationships with your existing referral partners. And don’t forget to get digital—use the event as a way collect email addresses for your newsletter and connect on social media with all attendees. You can even create a specific hashtag for your event to brand it and encourage attendees to share their pictures and experiences.
5. Happy borrowers
We’ve saved the most important resource for last. When it comes to referrals, satisfied customers are your greatest assets! The majority of homebuyers, particularly first-timers, say they found their loan officer or mortgage broker via friends or word of mouth in the community.
Since current and past customers are such an important referral resource, you’ll want to develop and maintain strong relationships with them. Clients are more likely to refer your services to others if they consider you a friend. For example, loan officers who show up at their closings are demonstrating that they care about the clients’ future happiness in their new home.
Plus, by attending the closing, you get one last face-to-face meeting. This is a good time to give your clients a handful of business cards, and, of course, connect on social media!
An easy trick: Take a selfie with your clients and the real estate agent at the closing, post it to social media, and be sure to tag everyone in the photo. Tagging the picture means it will show up on their feeds, meaning you just got introduced to a whole network of new connections!