By: Esther Victoria Toribio
What thought(s) come to mind when the word “networking” appears? To me, the word networking is often paired with alcoholic beverages, light appetizers and in turn results in a social event between many individuals, most of whom already know each other. These types of events make it difficult for a new person to make any headway in gaining connections, which is what I found to be true for myself. In the beginning of my real estate career in January 2022, I had to come up with creative ways for people to get to know the “new face” in real estate.
While I was trying to build my business and network within the industry, I saw a huge need in the networking space for education and events that actually made sense. I started The V. Exchange, a full-service networking event company for business professionals so that they had a space to learn how to leverage intentional and interactive communication. I utilized my background in law, psychology and mental health to help attendees become comfortable with one another so that they too could build relationships in a judgement free space.
Away from the typical bar setting venue, I began these events at pre-construction sales galleries, interior design showrooms and ended the year with an event at The Paramount Miami World Center penthouse with well over 100 in attendance.
I’m sharing what I’ve learned along the way so that you may make the most out of your next networking event.
Phone-Free Events Work Well
The average person spends 5 to 6 hours daily on their cell phones. At networking events, because of social anxiety or mere distractions, we easily pre-occupy ourselves with our phones and miss being present instead. You are one conversation away from potentially changing your life, but it is increasingly difficult to make connections with distractions like cell phones. The minimal task of putting your cell aside for a short duration makes a significant difference. It can be uncomfortable, but it is necessary in many cases. Phone-free events eliminate the temptation altogether, and it’s much easier to put your phone away if you know that everyone else in the room is doing the same.
Alcohol and Networking Don’t Always Mix
As we know alcoholic beverages impair cognition among other defects to the brain and body. And while it may be a social band aid for some, for those who function off zero-proof beverages, networking without alcohol has advantages. These advantages build confidence, develop stronger communication skills, help one stay alert, and register important information.
Not All Networking Events are Created Equal
To grow a thriving and engaged network, I began attending events that did not have a huge emphasis on “free drinks” but instead offered instruction and knowledge from well-known industry leaders. I also worked on my personal networking skills, such as focusing on active listening skills, body language and implementing open-ended questions that foster connections, conversations, and collaborations.
Include People From Multiple Industries
Solidifying relationships with people in real estate is invaluable for building a support system. Other real estate professionals can help you in myriad ways. It’s important though, to also network with people in other industries, because those are the connections that will help you build your business.
In just two years, I have networked with hundreds of business professionals in Miami-Dade and Broward County. And as a result, I have been able to market myself on social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook. Networking that adds value has made all the difference in my business. How has your business thrived through networking?
Esther Victoria Toribio, MS, MA is a Real Estate Advisor with LUXE Properties and is the Founder and Owner of The V. Exchange. She currently serves as a Miami YPN Ambassador.