Networking is critical. Most successful real estate investors started out (and stay successful) by committing to networking. Fortunately, every major market in America has REI Club events, and most have a variety of EXPO’s, tradeshows or other events to help meet others that can help your business. Jason Burke, owner of the Real Estate Insiders Club of Las Vegas, tells us how to be a better networker at events in this episode of the FlipNerd.com VIP Show.
Mike: Welcome to the Flipnerd.com podcast. This is your host Mike Hambright and on this show I will introduce you to V.I.P.s in the real estate industries as well as other interesting entrepreneurs, whose stories and experiences can help you take your businesses to the next level. We have three new shows each week which are available in the iTunes store or by visiting FlipNerd.com. So without further ado, let’s get started.
Hey, it’s Mike Hambright with FlipNerd.com, welcome back for another exciting V.I.P. interview, where I interview some of the most successful real estate investing experts and entrepreneurs in the industry to help you learn and grown. Today I’m joined by Jason Burke, who’s the CEO of J.B. Investment Group, and he’s the operator of the Las Vegas Real Estate Insiders Club. Today we’re going to talk about the importance of events and networking in real estate investing, it’s a critical topic. Before we get started though, let’s take a moment to recognize our featured sponsors.
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Please note, the views and opinions expressed by the individuals in this program do not necessarily reflect those of FlipNerd.com or any of its partners, advertisers or affiliates. Please consult professionals before making any investment or tax decisions as real estate investing can be risky.
Jason: Hey, glad to be on, Mike.
Mike: So, in addition to, we’re going to learn some more about you today. I know you’ve got an upcoming event and we’re going to talk about how important just events are in general and networking. A lot of folks that follow the show know that I’m a huge proponent of REIA clubs and know their value in our industry and we go out of our way to support them. But before we start talking about that stuff why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and give us some of your background about how you got into real estate investing?
Jason: I got back into real estate investing about 2006-2007. I initially went into a Dayton and Doll [sp.] event which I was introduced from a Rich Dad club. It was back in late 2006-2007 I remember it’s Massachusetts it was snowing, there was like 10″ to 15″ it was a three day event so we were stuck in the hotel mostly but it’s what began me really learning more about real estate, learning more about multi-family and really got my interest going and it was someone else introducing me into it. And I had done some studying from the Rich Dad books and so on, like that. I’ve always been a very independent person where I’ve self taught myself, sought advice from mentors and so on like that. So, I didn’t really start actually investing until 2008, realistically and that gets into why I came out here to Vegas and more into the multi-family and B&C, doing buy and hold, wholesaling, that type of thing. I’ve being doing now investing for about five years now and then before that I had a media background, where I did [inaudible 00:03:41] producing, writing for media I went for school for that back in MSN. So I did it behind and in front of the camera and I ran my own sports company, Sports Entertainment Network, which helped connect High School athletic coaches with scholarships.
Mike: Well, you’re on the long list of guests we’ve had on the show that didn’t start in real estate but they found their way there one way or another.
Jason: Yes. Yes.
Mike: Awesome. So then talk a little be about how you started running the REIA club and just really how that fit into your strategy of real estate investing and that’s going to be the general topic of the day is the importance of networking, which REIA networks are the king of bringing people together, and talk about real estate investing.
Jason: It was actually an interesting story, it was back in 2010. I had gone to this REIA meeting back in Las Vegas Real Estate Insiders club at the time that was run by Glenn Pantone. I was in the August meeting where he announced he was stepping down. So I actually called my partner at the time, which was Frank Simon and said, “Hey, Glenn’s stepping out.” he was like, “Hey, why don’t we take over the club?” I’m like, “Okay, I’m cool with that.” So, it wasn’t something that I was planning to do, it’s an opportunity that happened. So, I had a meeting with Glenn and I took it over in September 2010 and since then I’ve been running the club, four years now, this year. We did learn a few things along the way and kind of changed the format to make it more one speaker, questions and then second half of the meeting networking. So, you’re given the value of not just education but the value of networking and building relationships, that’s what we’re talking about today how important that is. And so what has fit into my strategic plan is it has helps me get real estate opportunities coming in the door, to evaluate. It’s one of my sources are doing that, I’ve also got implied money sources [inaudible 00:05:38] REIA club, I’ve also got [inaudible 00:05:40] sources and vendor professional relationships. At the cost of me running the club and building those relationships over time. It wasn’t my intent when I first took it over, but it’s worked out where now I have intention behind it, to potentially use it to feed my network and feed my real estate business.
Mike: I had somebody on the show recently that talked about how to position themselves as an expert in their field, whether it’s from a certain lead source or whether you focus on burn outs or whatever it is, how to position yourself as an expert and I think for a lot of, in my experience, a lot of folks that run real estate investing clubs saw it as a way to cure some of their social needs. I want to commune with people, I want to meet people and they enjoy bringing people together and it’s not for everybody but it’s for some people and it’s a way to kind of position yourself as a way to help people and in the process you come across deals and build relationships with people that will benefit the real estate investing side of your business as well.
Jason: Yes, I definitely agree with that. I think that’s very important, you’re helping people at the same time you’re building a real estate investing business while you’re doing it, and you’re helping people get to where they want to go and that’s really critical.
Mike: And this is becoming kind of old news because I’ve said it several times before but even I myself started by walking into a REIA club meeting, had some interest in real estate investing but had no idea what to expect and you just kind of show up at a club meeting and start to hear stories and talk to people and there’s a lot of folks that I know that got started that way. Really didn’t know what they didn’t know, went to a REIA club meeting and things kind of, they took it from there one way or another. So, talk a little bit about just generally, not necessarily your real estate club, but just the importance of clubs and events and just general networking for investors and why that’s important.
Jason: It’s important for a couple of reasons. One, your general networking clubs is it helps you build relationships within the community. It helps you tap into knowledge base where people that know more than you, people who can network, people that can help you take your business to the next level. You meet vendor professionals there which are important to develop certain relationships, which you need for real estate transactions and just overall being there, networking, having support from other people knowing that people have done this before. That it’s not so daunting, especially for a newer investor that’s unsure and doesn’t know. I mean I take the time to meet with people that are new and just try to give them guidance where I can, and it’s really important for the networking piece to build up relations. It’s not about how many contacts you have, it’s the quality of the relationships you build over time and that’s one of the things I see as a mistake in a lot of networking, whether it be real estate or otherwise, people are obsessed with getting the business cards but not building the quality relationships they should. And I think that’s really important, whether you’re talking real estate club, or real estate event, or any networking event for that matter, but it’s really important to build your business. And you go there with a strategic goal of what you want to accomplish or what you want, and not a lot of people will do that. They’ll just go because it’s the first time or they’ll go because they’ve been [inaudible 00:08:47] and they have a certain goal. But it does help you when you have a strategic goal in mind going there and then open yourself up to the relationships and to see what you want to get out or what you could contribute into the group.
Mike: Maybe we could talk a little about, first off I know you have an event coming up and this show is going to be published right before your event comes up so we’ll try to help you promote it, but I want, hopefully, the content here will live on beyond your show is over. But why don’t you go ahead and tell us about the expo that’s coming up and then I want to kind of get into how people can get the most out of an event, I think that would be an interesting segue.
Jason: No, absolutely I think it would be very good. So, we have a Las Vegas Real Estate Expo we’re doing with Reality411. It’s going to be here October 4th and 5th here in Las Vegas, Nevada. Both days 9am-5pm up at the Hampton Inn Tropicana Hotel and Event Center. We’re going to have speakers such as Larry Goins and Brad Sumrok. We’re going to have a local real estate expert, Mark Collard that’s going to talk about real estate fundamental investing, we’re going to have Kylie Hatch and we’re going to have a list of speakers that are both national and local, talking about specific areas of real estate investing in our business and how they can help investors. And to get the most out of an expo, whether it be my expo or anyone else’s is really to go in there and network with intention to learn and intention to just develop relationships in that expo, just to connect and take time to have conversations with people and get to know them, get their contact information, set up a meeting with them while you’re there, if you’re traveling in the for expo. Because we have people come in from California for this expo and different states, so it’s not just Nevada. So really to get the most is to go in there with the intention of not only learning but to networking. As one of the organizers co-organizers of the event, our real goal would be to put on an excellent event that gives a lot of value for education and gives a lot of fresh networking opportunities. There’s going to be people in the room that have real estate opportunities, people that have money, people that can connect in a way, and there’s going plenty of time for networking and connecting with these vendor professionals. I mean, we’re probably going to have close to 20 to 30 vendors be at the expo as well as we have a strong speaker line-up for both days coming Saturday and Sunday. I will be speaking at some point in the expo as well about the REIA and so on. And we have different speakers on different, like multi-family, rehabbing, buy hold investing and really we just wanted to put on a value added event that benefits the community and benefits real estate investors in general and that’s really the goal of bringing the expo together. It came together in May, when I met Linda back in LA and I went to one of her expos and I talked.
Mike: Linda Pliagas.
Jason: Yes. So that came together, we had conversations and me and Kylie and her had conversations and it came together in late May/June when we decided to do the event for October. So we’ve been just really promoting that event, telling people about it through my club and through [inaudible00:11:46] and really saying, “Hey, we’re here to put on an excellent event that will give you a lot of value. Come out, you’ll learn a lot. You’ll get a chance to meet a lot of new people, network, develop relationships.” And that’s really important.
Mike: Some advice that I give to people that are listening to this, just from somebody that’s has been to a lot of expos and trade shows, spoken at a lot of events, and known a lot of the folks that are running these large events, I’m friends with all of them, is some of the same things you said. I think if you go there with some intention of what you want to accomplish, like, a lot of newer people, and I was probably the same way, you just show up and you really don’t know what to expect at all and you just think, “I’m just going to go with the flow.” Which is okay, but I think you need to have somewhat of an agenda over what I want to learn or who I want to meet. Because it’s kind of an opportunity lost if you don’t, and make sure, maybe you create yourself a little check list, like these are the things that I want to get done. And just keep looking at it every once in a while, and say, “Did I do these yet?” The other thing is, and just in networking in general, I’ve told, I teach a lot of folks this. I’m the worst at it, I don’t want to put myself on the spot here but, probably in the drawer right behind me I have a bunch of business cards in stacks with rubber bands wrapped around them from events that I went to, that I filled my pocket with cards and then I came home and threw them in a drawer and never necessarily contacted those people again. And I think that as I’m saying that there’s probably people that, when I say this next thing will kind of identify with this, they can probably remember maybe the exact people after they went to a networking even that actually sent them a personal email and said, “Hey it was great to meet you, I hope sometime soon we can talk about this or that again or whatever.” It’s so rare that most people remember those occurrences which is a shame because that’s what networking is all about. It’s not just making the connection but kind of building that relationship over time.
Jason: It’s the follow up.
Mike: Follow up is critical in real estate investing, why wouldn’t it be critical in networking?
Jason: It’s critical in both and I’ve learned that for myself, I’ve had that early on in past events where I had stacks of business cards you didn’t follow with and it was like a wasted event in reality. One of the most important things is to follow up with people after the event, email them, send them a letter, saying it was nice to meet you, or a card. Give them a call and say, “Hey I want to schedule a time to talk, it was great to meet you. Let’s see how we can work for mutual benefit, how we can benefit each other.” A lot of people fail to do that, they fail to follow up with people. They make the connection, they leave the event, it just slips their mind and three months later they’re looking at a card they don’t know what it is, you know?
Mike: And you can’t remember that person, or they can’t remember you. I think the key with networking is to remain memorable, to be in back of somebody’s mind, so when some opportunity comes up they think, “I know somebody that’s interested in that or I know somebody that said they want a C class multi-family property in this city.” Or whatever it is that you’re after.
Jason: Stand out, make yourself stand out and by doing that it’s really paying attention for us to learn about their business and then when they ask you, actually tell them about your business so you can actually provide value to their business. Come from a place of value to provide to the business rather than a place of just getting cards and networking but no value. Also with some people that just don’t provide value, that just come from a place of “I want to get a card” but they don’t think to take the time to say really say what value they provide that relationship, how can we make it a win/win? And that’s for anyone that really is working at a networking event, you want to provide value. It’s not how many cards you get, it’s how many quality connections you get.
Jason: And that’s the thing. You can have two hundred cards that have no quality connections, you had a failure of an event. You could 10 or 15, 10 or 20 or have maybe two or three or four really good connections that you could do business with and that’s a successful event. And that’s one of the things I have learned over the years and adjusted my strategy when it comes to networking. From what I used to do back in the mid 2000’s to what I do now.
Mike: In terms of networking and adding value back, just to build on your comment. I’ll give people just one other piece of advice, and this is going to sound a little odd to people, especially in newer folks that don’t think they have a lot to benefit people that they might talk to, maybe more veteran people who are more, “Well how can I help that person?” But in the process of talking to somebody that you’re interested in, if you literally just say, “Is there anyway, is there anything I could do to help you?” Sometimes I ask people that, you know, I have people on the show and people just assume that they’re just going to give to me and if I say to them, “Well what can I help you with?” they’re like, “Help me? Oh uh, you know.” You can tell that they’re kind of shocked because, which is a shame, people just don’t hear that very much. A lot of networking, I guess my point is, is when you’re networking make sure that you’re trying to, as you said, add value and not just take value from somebody.
Jason: Right, exactly, it’s add value, what you can do for them, how can you create that win/win relationship, is really critical. Whether it be a local REIA meeting, a networking event, an expo or whatever networking event that you may be real estate or non real estate related, you can apply those lessons to any one of them.
Mike: Can you give some advice on just generally the best ways to network, in terms of whether it’s systems you use. It can be as simple as email but.
Jason: I think the best way to network is, you go in there, you first want to get to know the other person’s business. What they do, how you can help them and how you can make solutions for them and stuff. Because if you pay attention, and generally pay attention to the people you network, they’ll ask you about your business and they’ll ask you about you. And you know you’re creating a win/win situation when you’re not just running up and, “Here’s my card.” Some people come to events and just hand out their cards but they won’t [inaudible 00:17:31] they just blast out a bunch of business cards and it does absolutely nothing. Contact management system is obviously important, [inaudible 00:17:35] I’ve used ProMaker. I’ve used that as a contact management system. I’ve used iContact you can use even Google, a spreadsheet or Excel. Just to keep contacts and remind you when to follow up with people and that’s always the point to keep managing a database. And one thing people don’t do is create a database to manage and that’s really your book of business, your contacts you know? I mean, some people are old fashioned, if you want to use a book to put the business cards in and that’s your database? Okay, but if you want to use a technological one, to really remind you it’s important to have a database. To be able to catalog and to keep track of interactions. One of the things at the meeting that we do, is we have a contact sheet we hand out to people to fill out, you know. So it helps you remember, you can catalog that information after. So this person is interested in doing this, this person wants to do this, I’m like, oh, you know? You have something to refer to either the database or the sheets but you should have some type of contact management system to help you with your networking, keeping track. If it’s not on the top of our heads, and I’m good at remembering stuff, I’m really sharp but not everyone’s as sharp as me, as far as that. That’s why it’s important to have a system to remind you, people have different levels. Even with me it helps you connect with those people, know when to follow up in doing that, and that’s really, really critical.
Mike: So just for general REIA club meetings, I know you have a monthly general meeting, which is pretty typical of real estate investment clubs, can you talk about. I think a challenge that a lot of people have, is that it’s usually during the week, everybody has hectic lives, they have busy jobs, they have long commutes, they have families they have to get home to, kids sports after school, there are so many things that conflict with the times of typical real estate investing club meetings and really not just REIA meetings, but anything outside of their job and their family. But just talk about the importance of people trying to get to those general meetings. Not just necessarily expos and large events but just, kind of recurring.
Jason: General meetings? It is very important because you want to build relationships by showing up there consistently over a period of time, you’re building relationships, you’re knowing people better. And it’s really just prioritizing, you have a schedule. It’s like, “Hey I need to get, this is a business activity I need to do every month to get to because it’s going to help my business, you know? Get into the local REIA meeting learning more, network of new people, building my business and that just comes down to prioritizing, you know? And you’re scheduling, you look at your schedule and say, hey I have to do this or this is a business activity I need to do, or this networking event I need to be at. But it really comes down to prioritizing your time on that and hey, I’m investing in these relationships because this can help me and my family accomplish our goals in the long term. And that’s what you’ve got to look at, it’s not show up at one meeting and then don’t show up again, you know? It’s show up consistently to develop relationships over time and you’ll see those results.
Mike: That’s the key is over time because I think, it’s just like. I’ve bought decent amounts of houses in the past but we go weeks without buying houses sometimes and then we’ll buy two or three in a day. Weird things happen. So you can’t expect that every time you go to an event, you’re going to hit a home run. You’re probably never going to buy a house or sell a house at a REIA club meeting but it’s based on incrementally building those little relationships over time and then you have such a large network that good stuff happens fairly consistently but it’s kind of planting seeds for things down the road. And I think that’s where a lot of people get hung up is, they say, “Well I might drive all the way there and there’s probably hardly anyone there and nothing fantastic is going to happen tonight.” But you’re not going there for tonight, you’re going there for the future.
Jason: Yes, you’re going there for the future. You’re not going to get a deal every single month. I don’t even get a deal every single month, and I’m the organizer, you know? There’s times when there’s nothing that comes out and there’s time when things comes out of it, you know? Because I do more multi-family and a lot of my club members do residential so, there’s times when you don’t get but there’s other times when you get pipeline connections a lot of opportunities come in. So, it works itself out but you just have to have patience. You have to have patience to understand the process over time. And you also understand what market you’re in too, it makes a difference the pace of how people move in certain different markets. Like in Massachusetts and New York everybody is working 24/7 and the weekends. Here in Vegas it’s like after Friday it’s like, we may have to wait until Monday. So, you have to understand your market and you have to know the plan over time you’re going to see that business. But it’s not going to be overnight and you just have to understand that as a person when you’re networking or you’re organizing or whatever you’re doing. So, you know you can hit your strategic goals all the time.
Mike: So, tell us again about, not necessarily the speakers, but the event that you have coming up, the expo and Linda Pliagas puts on a number of events and there’s the REI expo that’s a great event. Just talk a little bit about the upcoming event and what you think people should expect to get out of it.
Jason: I think what people should expect to get out of it is they’re going to get a lot of valuable education through real estate experts that are teaching different real estate fields and also they will get a lot of valuable networking opportunities to build their network, to build their brand. So really go there and come away with that value that they’ll get from networking. I mean, yes you’re going to learn stuff, you’re not going to learn everything you need to learn about any field at a one day or two day expo, that’s never going to happen. But it does give you the opportunity to connect with those people that can mentor you to do that if you chose to do that. What the value is, you’re going to be able to network with a lot of people, some people are going to have private money, some people have got real estate opportunities, there will be plenty of vendor professionals to help you build your power team. And that’s another thing, investors don’t take time to build you power team of professionals that can really help you out, and there’s going to be a lot of valuable networking opportunities for that.
Mike: Can you expand on that a little bit, what you call build your power team?
Jason: Yes, the power team are individuals. So, say you want to have your title company, you want to have your broker, you want to have your attorney, you want to have your appraiser, you want to have a real estate mentor on your team. You want to have different areas of professionals that you use for different services that you’re going to need to do transactions. You’re going to need a title company to do escrow, you’re going to need an appraiser, you’re going to need people that can rehab, a contractor on your team. You need a good real estate mentor that can pat you on the head and kick you in the butt when you’re not doing what you need to do. You need different people to do that and that’s one of the things I emphasize is definitely a power team and having those people in place and the other clubs emphasize that through [inaudible 00:24:32] they do that as well. But it’s one of the things that are very important because people skip that stuff. They may have the potential deal or the private money but they don’t court the vendor professionals around them to make the transaction happen, and sometimes that be problematic. Especially when you’re a beginning investor or someone that’s been an intermediate investor, they don’t have the type of network they do. And I’m very good at networking and building my network because I’m very strategic about not just doing my club but to link in to other things like that. When I want to go into other markets. I strategically look to build that network of vendor professionals, of real estate investors of wholesalers, of people that you’re going to need to do business with. Attorneys to have good contracts to make sure that you keep everything above board and legal, escrow officers, brokers that have good relationships that you get good pocket listings, if you do business with them the right way. Just making sure you have the people you need to accomplish your business goals. And every one is different from what you want to court, some say rehab, some do fix and flip. I mean, I think you have to adjust with the market. Right now in Vegas we’re in a more of buy and hold market. I see some people saying fix and flip but it’s just not happening here like it was a couple of years ago, realistically. But having the right support people in place, so you can do what you need to do to be successful to put you and your investors in the best position is something very critical to do.
Mike: I think it’s really important even for veteran real estate investors because people come to me all the time asking for who do I use for this or that. It’s fairly common for me to go ask them for, I’ve been using this roofer for years and he’s let me down for the last time. I need somebody new and I’ve used one person for so long, when they flake out you’re like, “I’m just like a newbie. I need somebody now and I don’t know who to use.”
Jason: There’s a tip for that, basically it’s having three people on your power team at every position, three deep. So, therefore you have three people that you can call. Three title companies, three attorneys, three contractors, have it three deep so if you can’t get a hold of that professional or that person flakes out, you have someone else to go to. So you’re not stuck in the quandary in this, “What do I do?” Because you’ve taken the time to develop those relationships that develop a list that say, these are my guys, these three. And you can have more than three but I just say three as a general rule and that’s one of the things that I learned from Mark Hahl and from Noteback [SP] is really having three deep or four deep and your power team for each position, having your CPA, having your accountants because certain people specialize in certain areas than in other areas and by having those people on your team and having multiple people. You can’t get ahold of the guy you’ve been using forever or he flakes on you? At least you have two or more people to go to and that is really critical.
Mike: Absolutely, yes. Well, Jason, we’re going to add a link for the upcoming expo down below the video here but if you want to go ahead and tell us where people can go to find your REIA club and where they go to find more about the expo.
Jason: Okay, well people can go to Meetup.com under the Las Vegas Real Estate Insiders Club and they can find out more what the Las Vegas Real Estate Insiders Club is. It’s free to join, we don’t charge for the meetings because we’re a sponsor driven meeting now, so it’s free to attend the meetings. The expo, I have the link, the flyer I am happy to send a link to the flyer that you have that people can click it will take them right to the flyer for the meeting. It’s free to register for the expo, it doesn’t cost anything to attend. We do have a bus tour, for $99 it’s going to be on Sunday, that’s the only thing. And then we have the list of speaker that we currently have right now. I mean, there’s a whole list on the email that I sent you, the whole complete list, and then there’s the list of five or six of them on the flyer. And so if they want to attend the event, it’s free to attend, just register. You’ll get a confirmation email. We also have booth spots available for the expo as well for companies that want to do that. And that’s about $495 for the booth spot right now and that’s the table, chair, skirt and it gets you into Reality411 magazine in October.
Mike: Okay, great, great, good stuff. So we’ll add links for all that below. Wish you the best with your upcoming event and with your REIA club and thanks for sharing your time and your insights today, I definitely appreciate it.
Jason: I definitely appreciate it too. Thanks, Mike.
Mike: Take care my friend.
Jason: Okay. Thanks for joining us today on today’s FlipNerd.com podcast to listen to more of our shows and hear from incredible guests please access all of our podcasts in the iTunes store. You can also watch the video versions of our shows by visiting us at FlipNerd.com.