Some may say that being a real estate agent is all about sales, but those who sit among the top ranks know that being an agent aligns much more with customer service. Sales is notorious for being a numbers game, but if you play by those rules, you could meet and greet thousands of potential clients in any given year and not get one phone call asking for your services. Lead nurturing isn't about trying to win a contest of how many business cards you can hand out; it's about building quality relationships that will last a lifetime. After all, people generally want to work with people they enjoy, and a cold, impersonal business card won't accomplish that task. To thrive in the real estate world, it's of the utmost importance to make personal connections and then keep in touch. 

Making Connections

In a business where every agent is vying for leads, where do you find prospects who aren't committed to your competition? Money Crashers suggests being an active member in networking groups and in your community. Closed business groups are one effective way to get your name out there. You could be the only real estate agent in the group, and even if other members don't have an immediate need for your services, they may have an acquaintance who is seeking real estate help. If you feel more comfortable in a more casual setting, networking at your local gym or church can help you gain leads as well. 

Once you've taken that initial step and made a connection, it's important to tend to the embers to keep the flames alive. Small Business Trends discusses several major components of building on that first outreach, including the following:

Get More Personal: Show a genuine interest in your potential clients. Inquire about personal hobbies or recent outings they've taken. If you think that's too personal, stick with real estate topics. Ask what they would like in their next home, or what they love about their current home.

Be Authentic: Clients want to have sense of familiarity with their agent, so if you share genuine information about yourself and make yourself more vulnerable, clients will likely respond by opening up faster with their personal information. You can create a more natural bond when you are being your true self.

Identify Shared Goals and Values: Make it known when you have something in common with your client, including character traits. This creates a mutual similarity that helps form a bond.

However, all your groundwork could go out the window if you fail to establish trust. It is imperative to deliver on what you promise. For instance, meet deadlines, return calls, and play a fair game. There is no quicker way to lose a client than only looking out for yourself and your pending commission. Clients want to feel as if their agent is taking care of them during an overwhelming transaction.

 Staying in Touch

Making client connections is important to gaining real estate leads for one transaction. Staying in touch with those leads is important for gaining repeat and referral business. In fact, according to The Real Estate Trainer, 38 percent of home sellers found their real estate agent from a friend, neighbor, or relative in 2014. Another 22 percent used the same agent they had used in the past. That's a whopping 60 percent of home sellers who used an agent who previously impressed by building a connection, establishing trust, and keeping in touch.

Keeping in touch with past clients doesn't have to become obsessive or overbearing. You certainly don't want to smother your clients in a desperate attempt to gain referrals, but there are healthy ways to casually keep in touch as time ticks on. The National Association of Realtors advises agents to connect with past clients with useful information, such as current mortgage rates or recently sold homes in their neighborhood. You could also send them holiday cards on "off" occasions—holiday cards could get lost in the mix, but it's doubtful your clients will receive many birthday cards for their dog. You can also use social media by making a connection through any one of your sites. All of these are nonintrusive ways to keep that connection strong after the initial transaction. 

Lead nurturing doesn't have to be an intimidating task you must overcome to gain success. It can be as organic as saying "Hi" to the barista you buy your coffee from each morning. Finding and making those connections is imperative to achieving your sales goals and growing your real estate business. Once you have these connections, gently nurture them for the real win of repeat business and referrals. Over time, it may seem less like work and more like gaining new friends.