This article is an edited excerpt from The Real Estate Mentor, which is available on Amazon.

Mention lead generation—especially to a new agent—and it may produce an eye roll. It brings to mind door knocking and cold calling and other activities many agents dislike.

But without lead generation, agents will fail. It’s no secret that there is a high dropout rate in this business and that many agents don’t earn the income they had envisioned, especially in the early years in the profession.

What should we be telling new agents about lead generation? How about that their number one job in real estate is to attract business and to remain top of mind with the people in their world? What’s needed is full-on network engagement.

Network engagement is what we do to generate business and referrals. It’s a call to action that revolves around implementing systems that consistently create interactions with the people in your world. The primary goal is to keep top of mind with all of the people in your existing network to grow that network. Network engagement is the bridge between lead generation and your sphere of influence. It is designed to build a thriving client base that runs on referrals and repeat business.

Network engagement is about knowing and understanding your network in a way that nobody else does. It’s about treating people not the way that you would like to be treated but treating them the way they would like to be treated.

The question isn’t what are we telling new agents but what aren’t we telling them? What have we left out that draws a much clearer picture of what it takes to build a thriving real estate business? As a broker, I have a responsibility to make sure that my agents know not only what is expected of them as agents and professionals but what may be required of them to be successful in this business.

A successful and purposeful network engagement plan may include the following activities:

  • Handwritten notes
  • Social media marketing
  • Video texts
  • Video emails
  • Pop-bys
  • Phone calls

The list goes on and on. Many agents quickly become overwhelmed with so many lead generation options, and just as many are hampered by trying to implement activities that simply aren’t a good fit for them. Recommending that new agents select three to five of the dozens of great network engagement activities and track those activities consistently can produce great results. The what isn’t nearly as important as the do in the form of systematic, sustained engagement. It must be all-encompassing, all-consuming, and it must be our focus as real estate agents.

Can agents become successful in the short term by purchasing leads? Certainly. Many have. Can agents grow their business by making cold calls day after day? Certainly. But by focusing efforts and activities towards people who already know you, like you, and trust you, the likelihood of repeat business and referrals grows exponentially.

Without question, focusing on your network and engaging in a systematic, sustained way can elevate sales numbers. More importantly, it can elevate relationships. Pandemic or no pandemic, real estate is first and foremost a relational business. Many of us have found new and innovative ways to stay top of mind with our network while social distancing. But network engagement has never been more important. Perhaps it’s time for a new real estate term that better describes what we do and how we do it.